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The Minister for Europe (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and Sir John Grant (UK permanent representative to the EU) represented the UK at the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) in Brussels on 17 July.
The Council adopted conclusions: welcoming the outcome of the Euro-Africa Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development in Rabat on 10-11 July; expressing its concern about the increasing illegal migratory flows in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic; and underlining the need to address the situation, including further work on East African routes.
High representative Solana stressed the need for the international community to continue support for the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) until UN transition, as well as putting pressure on the Sudanese Government to accept the UN mission. The high representative hoped that a high level-conference in Brussels on 18 July would make progress on both these issues.
The Council adopted conclusions: reiterating EU support for the Darfur Peace Agreement; emphasising
the importance of an effective AMIS; and urging the Sudanese Government to agree to UN transition.
The Council discussed the forthcoming elections in DRC on 30 July. External Relations Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said that the EUs election observation mission in DRC, working with other international delegations and with MONUC (UN mission in DRC) and EUFOR (EU force in DRC) on security issues, should help ensure a smooth election process.
The Council agreed conclusions urging the Congolese to seize the opportunity offered by the elections and the authorities to fully comply with democratic principles and noting the ongoing deployment of the EUFOR and the EU election observation mission.
The Council adopted conclusions on Kosovo reiterating its full support for Ahtisaari and his efforts in conducting the political process to determine Kosovos fixture status and welcoming the joint report by High Representative Solana and the Commissioner for Enlargement Rehn on the future EU role and contribution in Kosovo.
Conclusions on Macedonia welcomed the organisation for security and co-operation in Europes preliminary assessment that overall parliamentary elections on 5 July met international standards, despite some isolated incidents.
An Extended Troika (the presidency, incoming presidency, enlargement Commissioner Rehn and high representative Solana) met Serbian Prime Minister Kostunica after the GAERC on 17 July to discuss Serbias co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the action plan that Serbia had drawn up on how to deliver on its ICTY commitments.
The presidency stressed that Serbia must begin to implement the action plan immediately with full cooperation with ICTY being a condition for restarting Stabilisation and Association Agreement negotiations.
The Council adopted conclusions: expressing concern at the situation in the Middle East, particularly the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the destruction of civilian infrastructure; supporting the idea of a possible international monitoring presence in Lebanon; and calling for international engagement, especially through High Representative Solana, to de-escalate the crisis.
The Minister for Europe (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): Wilton Park is an academically independent Executive Agency of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Its annual report and accounts for 2005-06 are laid before Parliament today.
Wilton Park celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2006. It continues to achieve high ratings from participants on the value of Wilton Park conferences. Building on last years successes, nine overseas conferences are planned for 2006. There has been an increase in the number of participants from certain key areas including international organisations and business.
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The Minister of State, Department of Health (Andy Burnham): As recommended by Ofcom in their report(1) of January 2006, the Department set up a Patient Power Review Group (PPRG) in February 2006 to explore which communication services could be offered to hospital patients without charging as high a price for incoming calls.
All aspects of the charging structure;
the requirement to install, with limited clinical exceptions, units at every bedside within a hospital site, irrespective of use;
the requirement to offer services through a combined unit, offering television and telephone and capable of offering added value services; and
the need to clarify guidance on use of mobile phones in hospitals.
(1)Ofcom own-initiative investigation into the price of making telephone calls to hospital patients.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Ivan Lewis): We have today published the report of the Department of Health review of services for allergy, which the Government undertook to carry out in its response (Cm 6433, January 2005) to the Health Committee report on the provision of allergy services (November 2004). The report has been placed in the Library and it is available on the Department of Health website at:
The Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety (Mr. Tony McNulty): The Parental Compensation Order (PCO) is provided for by sections 13A to 13E of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (CDA 1998) which were inserted by section 144 of and Schedule 10 to the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.
The PCO powers will be commenced initially in 10 local authority areas (Gateshead, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire, Wandsworth, Southwark, Leicester, South Tyneside and York). The use, impact and cost of the PCO will be evaluated as part of the wider use of early intervention.
Attempts to secure voluntary reparation should always be made. The PCO should be used only where that approach fails and when its use would be desirable in the interests of preventing a repetition of the behaviour in question. However, we hope that the existence of the PCO will encourage reparation and wider behavioural change on a voluntary basis.
By requiring the parent(s) or guardian(s) to pay compensation, the PCO is designed to provide compensation to those affected and to prevent further behaviour by the child of the type which caused the order to be made. The PCO will therefore encourage parents and their children to understand their responsibilities and to take responsibility for behaviour.
A PCO is designed to be used as part of a wider strategy to increase the parents' skills and improve their child's behaviour, to address risk factors and underlying problems experienced by the child and family, to steer the child away from involvement in anti-social or offending-type behaviour, to keep the child safe and to encourage positive outcomes.
A Magistrates' Court may make a PCO on application from a local authority when it is satisfied that the child (who must be under 10) has taken, or caused loss of or damage to property in the course of:
committing an act which, if he had been aged 10 or over, would have constituted an offence; or
acting in a manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as himself; and that it would be desirable to make the order in the interests of preventing a repetition of the behaviour in question.
the views of the person affected by the damage, loss etc about whether an order should be made in his favour; and
the child's family circumstances and the likely effect of the order on those circumstances.
It follows that local authority practitioners should form a view about the suitability of a PCO following assessment of the child, parents and family circumstances and in light of experience of trying to resolve the dispute on a voluntary basis. The PCO would be a viable option only with the support of the person affected by the damage, loss etc.
The effect of a PCO is to require the parent(s)/ guardian(s) of the child to pay compensation to the person affected. Compensation is limited to £5,000. In deciding the level of compensation the court must take into account:
the value of the damage etc caused to property by the child;
any further loss which flowed from the taking of or damage to the property, or from its loss;
whether the child or parent has already paid any compensation and if so how much;
whether the child or parents have made any reparation and if so what it consisted of;
the means of the parents; and
any lack of care on the part of the person(s) affected by the taking of the property or its loss or damage.
Guidance on the PCO is being completed with DfES following limited consultation with key stakeholders including the Welsh Assembly Government. Feedback from practitioners will help inform the improvement of the guidance. It is intended that there will be a wider consultation exercise on the guidance before implementation of the PCO across England and Wales.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (John Reid): We have today published the Home Office's 2006 departmental report. Copies are available in the House Library and on the Home Office website. The report describes the work of the Home Office during 2005-06, in particular as reflected in its strategic objectives and key targets as delivered by our three key business areas: policing, security and community safety; offender management and criminal justice reform; and immigration citizenship and nationality.
The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Joan Ryan): Section 37 of the Identity Cards Act 2006 requires a report to be laid before Parliament every six months, following Royal Assent, setting out the Secretary of State's estimate of the public expenditure likely to be incurred on the ID cards scheme during the 10 years beginning with the laying of the report. The first six-monthly report on the costs of the identity card scheme is due on 30 September but, because of the dates of recess, it will be laid before Parliament on their return on 9 October 2006.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Joan Ryan): Feedback from industry on the procurement strategy for the national identity scheme has reinforced the importance of avoiding a big bang implementation and supports the incremental approach to the scheme. The Home Office report on the feedback will be published in August. Intellect, the trade association for the UK hi-tech industry has also produced a report on the procurement strategy as part of its concept viability process. Copies of both reports will be placed in the Libraries of the House on publication and the documents will also be made available via the Identity and Passport Service website www.ips.gov.uk
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