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House of Lords Appointments Commission

The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair): I have today placed the House of Lords Appointments Commission Annual Report for 2004-05 and 2005-06 in the Libraries of both Houses. I am grateful to the members of the Commission for the report and their valuable work.

Advisory Committee on Business Appointments

The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair): I have today published the eighth report of the independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. The report provides an account of the work of the Committee in advising former Ministers and Crown servants on the acceptance of appointments after leaving Crown service. The report covers the period 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006. Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of the House. I am grateful to the Chairman, Lord Mayhew of Twysden, and to the members of the Committee for giving their time and expertise so generously.

Solicitor-General

Public Prosecution Service (Annual Report)

The Solicitor-General (Mr. Mike O'Brien): I have today placed in the Library of the House copies of the first Annual Report of the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland and of its business plan for the coming year.

While the new Service was formally launched in June 2005 it initially only took work from the six police districts that make up the PPS Belfast region. It has, however, been planned from the start as a regional service and the last year has seen good progress in rolling out the Service over the whole of Northern Ireland.


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In August 2005 the PPS western and southern region assumed responsibility for the conduct of all youth offences occurring in the PSNFs Armagh, Banbridge and Newry and Mourne districts as well as all prosecutions from the five police districts within Fermanagh and Tyrone. A new Lisburn office, serving as headquarters of the PPS eastern region opened in March 2006 and will be fully operational by October of this year when it will add a further six police districts to those already within the PPS structure.

The roll out of the PPS will continue through this year and next and when completed will operate from six regional offices planned for Belfast, Lisburn, Newry, Omagh, Londonderry and Ballyrnena. This regional approach, with each office having its own regional prosecutor, will encourage local involvement with the service, helping the community understand its work and how it goes about reaching decisions and thereby building public confidence in the criminal justice system. The annual report and business plan is part of this process and will be of interest to anyone with an interest in the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland or in criminal justice generally.

Trade and Industry

Central Government Payment Performance

The Minister for Industry and the Regions (Margaret Hodge): The overall payment performance of Government is 96.87 per cent. Figures for the financial year 2005-06 show that there has been a slight fall compared to last year’s figure of 97.09 per cent. Some 54 per cent of Departments improved on their performance of last year.

Government Departments and their agencies are required to monitor their payment performance and to publish the results in their Departmental or annual reports. The table lists, by Department, the proportion of bills paid within 30 days, or other agreed credit period, on receipt of a valid invoice.

The Government take this issue very seriously, and are committed to improving the payment culture in the UK, in order to create fair and stable business transactions. The Government’s own payment performance is an important element in this policy.


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Main Departments 2005-06Paid on Time %

Defence Bills Agency (Ministry of Defence)

100

Office of Fair Trading

99.86

Intelligence Agencies (GCHQ)

99.80

Privy Council Office

99.71

Office for National Statistics

99.51

Office for Government Commerce

99.48

Office of Gas & Electricity Markets (OFGEM)

99.46

Phe National Archives (Public Records Office)

99.31

Health & Safety Executive

99.19

Scotland Office (Department for Constitutional Affairs)

99.11

Office of Water Services (OFWAT)

99.10

Postal Services Commission (PostCom)

98.97

Export Credit Guarantee Department

98.93

HM Revenue & Customs

98.80

Department for Transport

98.71

Charity Commission

98.24

Food Standards Agency

98.18

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

98.09

Forestry Commission

97.98

Ordnance Survey

97.95

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

97.66

Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED)

97.66

Government Actuary's Department

97.54

Land Registry

97.38

Department for International Development

96.76

Department for Education & Skills

96.29

Department of Health

96.19

Treasury Solicitors Department

95.78

Department of Trade and Industry

95.67

UK Trade & Investment

95.35

Electoral Commission

94.91

Office of Rail Regulation

94.89

HM Treasury

94.70

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

94.19

Cabinet Office (OPS)

94.06

Central Office of Information

93.17

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

92.96

Serious Fraud Office

91.46

Department of Work and Pensions

89.79

Crown Prosecution Service

88.96

Wales Office (Department for Constitutional Affairs)

88.64

Department for Constitutional Affairs (Lord Chancellor's Department)

88.48

Northern Ireland Office

86.65

Home Office

86.24

National Savings and Investments

85.49

Royal Mint

84.98

Overall Total

96.87


Coal Authority (Annual Report and Accounts 2005-06)

The Minister for Energy (Malcolm Wicks): I have today laid a copy of the Coal Authority report and accounts for 2005-06 before Parliament.

Regional Development Agencies (Annual Report and Accounts 2005-06)

The Minister for Industry and the Regions (Margaret Hodge): I have today laid before Parliament the annual reports and accounts for 2005-06 for the eight Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) outside of London. Copies have been placed in the House Library.

The annual report and accounts for London are presented to the Lord Mayor rather than to Parliament. I shall provide a copy to the House of Commons Library when it is available.

The Government welcome the contribution that the RDAs have made during this year to driving forward economic development in their respective regions.


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Also published today are the RDAs’ reported outputs for 2005-06. These results are evidence that the RDAs continue to play a valuable role in improving the economic performance of the English regions and, through working with their partners, the RDAs are making a real difference to the individual regional economies concerned. The figures cover the creation and safeguarding of jobs, the number of people helped to get a job, the amount of brownfield land brought back into use, the number of businesses added to the regional economies, the number of businesses helped to improve their performance, the number of learning opportunities created and the amount of private sector investment attracted benefiting deprived areas, all as a result of RDA activity.

Press releases on the outputs have been issued in each region. Copies of the output results have been placed in the House Library, and are also available on the DTI website at: www.dti.gov.uk/regional/regional-dev-agencies/index.html

Transport

Journey Times (Urban Areas)

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Douglas Alexander): In my written ministerial statement of Tuesday 18 July 2006, Official Report 18-19WS the Department published new targets for journey times in urban areas. The target included for Merseyside unfortunately used an interim version of Merseyside’s target, rather than the final target they adopted. Incorporating the final target has a small beneficial effect on the national journey time target, lowering it by just 0.03 per cent.

The revised success criteria is therefore as follows: the target will be deemed to have been met if, on target routes in the 10 largest urban areas in England, an average increase in travel of 4.4 per cent. is accommodated within an increase of 3.6 per cent. in person journey time per mile.

An updated PSA and technical note has been placed on the Departmental website today. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

Release of Data from the UK Vehicle Registers

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Dr. Stephen Ladyman): I am today announcing 14 major new measures to ensure that the release of data from the UK vehicle registers is undertaken in a way that:


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This follows the review that I announced in December last year and the public consultation launched in February this year.

I will give a full update on progress in delivering these new measures in the autumn.

I will continue to scrutinise closely the way in which the scheme operates and how it is used. Should further action be merited, I will ensure that it is taken quickly.

The new measures are as follows:

New Requirements for evidence of ‘reasonable cause’

(1) New detailed guidance on what is likely to constitute ‘reasonable cause’.

(2) Clarity that behaviour in using data will be considered in judging whether a particular applicant’s assertions as to the ‘reasonable cause’ for his application are to be believed; and in deciding upon whether approved conditional access is granted or maintained.

(3) For all applications where ‘reasonable cause’ relates to a vehicle left on land without permission or in breach of terms and conditions, evidence is required that the applicant is the landowner or has the permission of the landowner to pursue the vehicle keeper.

(4) For all applications where ‘reasonable cause’ relates to the pursuit of a penalty charge, evidence is required that a penalty scheme was indeed in place on that piece of land (that is, that there was signage).

New requirements for ‘approved conditional access’

(5) Those bodies and companies seeking approved conditional access that do not have an appropriate regulatory body are required to be current members of an ‘accredited’ trade association. Part of the process for ‘accrediting’ trade associations will include ensuring that there is a clear and enforced code of conduct (for example relating to conduct, parking charge signage, charge levels, appeals procedure, approval of ticket wording; and appropriate pursuit of penalties that is, approach by letter only and county court action only to permit a house call).

(6) Organisations that do not comply with the terms of the accredited trade association will be expelled and without valid membership of another accredited trade association will lose their approved conditional access. Trade associations that do not police the conditions of membership adequately will lose their accreditation.

(7) All those seeking approved conditional access will be required to serve a ‘probationary’ period of six months or, if longer, for the period of time it takes to make 20 requests— during which all requests should be made on a case by case basis.

New Measures to ensure awareness of the vehicle keeper

(8) That all those who receive data, as evidence of their ‘reasonable behaviour’ and as a condition of ‘approved conditional access’, include in any correspondence with the keeper a leaflet or statement advising them of:


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And that this information is also placed on the DVLA website.

(9) That DVLA maintain on its web site a list of organisations and companies who have requested data and the reasons for their request.

(10) That a reference to the location on the DVLA website of guidance and advice and all other information relating to the release of vehicle keeper data are included on all DVLA documentation sent to the vehicle keeper—including the annual VED reminder.

New Auditing Procedures and action to combat misuse or complaints

(11) A rolling 3-year programme of audit check including targeted checks on those where concerns have been raised:

(12) A clear set of procedures where such concerns are raised:

New Complaints Procedures

(13) A clear procedure by which data subjects can notify DVLA if they feel that their data has been used inappropriately and take steps to draw this to the attention of vehicle keepers by including information in paperwork sent to them and on the DVLA website. This will include information of how they can notify the Information Commissioner of the misuse of their data.

(14) Complaints received will form part of the evaluation of whether an applicant’s assertion of ‘reasonable cause’ is valid.


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