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Organised and Financial Crime

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (John Reid): I have today published a consultation paper, “New Powers for Organised and Financial Crime”, which will make the UK the least desirable place for organised criminals to operate.

The proposals build on the plans set out in March 2004 in the Government’s White Paper: “One Step Ahead: A 21st Century Strategy to Defeat Organised Crime”. Those plans have been brought into being by the passing of the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 and the establishment of the Serious Organised Crime Agency from April this year. The proposals on which we are now consulting would:

We believe that these additional measures would provide important new means for tackling organised criminality still more effectively.

Copies of the consultation document are available in the House Library and on the Home Office website at: www.homeoffice.gov.uk. We should be glad to receive views by 17 October 2006.

Youth Justice Board

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe): The Youth Justice Board’s annual report and accounts for 2005-06 have been laid before Parliament today. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Transport

MOT Fee Increase (Consultation)

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Dr. Stephen Ladyman): The Department for Transport has, today, issued a consultation document for the attention of stakeholders seeking views on the proposed review of the maximum level of MOT fee due for implementation later this year. The letter proposes an increase in the maximum level of fee for a car (MOT test Class IV) from £44.15 to £50.35 from October 2006.

This represents an increase of £6.20. The Government do not intend to increase the maximum price again until April 2008 at the earliest.

The increase in the maximum fee level follows an analysis of how long garages actually spend performing the test which shows it now takes nearly an hour on average to fully MOT a car. This includes a check of up to 26 systems and components, including safety critical ones such as tyres and brakes.

Prescribed MOT fee levels are a maximum—some garages do not charge the full fee. Some garages simply charge less than maximum; some offer free retests; and, some even make no charge for the test provided it is combined with a full service.

The increase in fees will go to the garages to cover the costs of their time, with a small amount—27p—going to the Vehicle Operator Service Agency to cover the costs of running the system, which will in turn be passed to the service provider.

A copy of the letter is available in the Libraries of both Houses. The proposed new fee levels have already been subject to informal consultation with interested parties and so there is a shortened consultation period which expires on 1 September 2006.


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Work and Pensions

Informal Employment, Social Policy and Health Ministerial Meeting (Helsinki)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): The Employment, Social Policy and Health Informal meeting was held on 6 to 7 July in Helsinki, Finland.

My hon. Friend the Minister for Consumer Affairs and Competition Policy, the Minister of State, Department of Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, Central (Ms Winterton) and I represented the UK.

The theme of the informal was to look at the challenges of globalisation and demographic ageing. The workshops were divided into three parallel groups.

My hon. Friend the Minister for Consumer Affairs and Competition Policy participated in the workshop on ‘Productivity and Quality of Working Life’ and focused on the UK experience and strategy for promoting high performance in the workplace as set out in “Success at Work”.


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I represented the UK on the workshop on Prolonging Working Life for Men and Women and highlighted the Government’s plans to extend working life through pension reform and measures to help people to stay in work and balance their caring responsibilities.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Health spoke about the Health, Work and Wellbeing Strategy and emphasised the message that work is good for health, especially mental health, in the workshop looking at how to promote health in the workplace.

The presidency drew conclusions from the three workshops and said that it had seen a consensus that the ageing population raised clear challenges, which could best be met by shared objectives for employment, social and health policies. This could include flexicurity, effective social protection and consistent action on health. The flexibility needed to embrace social change should include action on work-life balance, gender equality, lifelong learning and health and safety to make work more attractive and increase productivity. Social partners and civil society must be fully engaged. All actions should be tailored to the needs of women and men.


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