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The protocol would establish the relationship between schemes and the criminal justice system in dealing with low-level criminal offences and offenders and, by definition, govern cases which have both achieved the criminal threshold and been deemed suitable by the Public Prosecution Service for referral for a restorative disposal. While the protocol cannot therefore formally extend to schemes’ other activities, as part of the inspection regime records on non-criminal cases handled by schemes will be examined to help ensure that all cases attaining the criminal threshold have been referred to the police. Schemes which achieve accreditation will, as organisations, have demonstrated the attainment of the high standards required in the protocol which I expect to see reflected in all aspects of their activities.

Due to the significant nature of the changes I want to allow for a further period of consultation on the new protocol, which will run in parallel with an Equality Impact Assessment to explore the potential for any of its measures to adversely impact on equality of opportunity for any of the nine categories set out in section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. This will be launched shortly and will involve a 12-week public consultation period.

It has never been a direct corollary that schemes which sigh up to the protocol will receive NIO funding. However I expect that accredited schemes meeting the exacting standards set out in the protocol should be in the best position, where they meet the appropriate grant criteria, to apply for funding from whatever statutory or charitable sources are currently available to them. Conversely any scheme which does not sign up to them will not receive any funding whatsoever from Government for community-based restorative justice.

I hope that the revised protocol can provide an effective way forward but I am keen to hear the views of all the stakeholders and interested parties during the consultation period.

Prime Minister

Armed Forces Pay Review

The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair): I am pleased to announce that I have reappointed Professor David Greenaway as chairman of the Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body for a second three-year term, commencing March 2007. The reappointment has been conducted in accordance with the office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ guidance on appointments to public bodies.

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Fraud Review

The Solicitor-General (Mr. Mike O'Brien): My right hon. Friend the Attorney-General has made the following written ministerial statement:

Trade and Industry

Facilities Research Council

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Jim Fitzpatrick): My noble Friend the Minister for Science and Innovation (Lord Sainsbury of Turville) has made the following ministerial statement:

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Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive

The Minister for Energy (Malcolm Wicks): I have today published a consultation document on the Government’s proposals to implement the waste electrical and electronic equipment directive (the WEEE Directive).

The Government are firmly committed to sustainable development and recognises that effective implementation of the WEEE directive has a key role to play in achieving this goal. Electrical and electronic equipment is the fastest growing category of waste across the European Union, with an estimated 17 to 20 kg per person produced every year. The UK alone generated around 1 million tonnes of WEEE last year. By ensuring that WEEE is treated, recycled and disposed of to high environmental standards as required by the directive, we protect the environment and human health from the risk of hazardous contamination.

The proposals published today follow on from the implementation review announced last December, and have been developed through extensive consultation with companies and other interested parties who will be directly affected by the new regulations. They represent a balance of controls needed to identify and discourage free-riders and give companies the freedom to find the most cost-effective routes to meet their obligations.

The intention is, subject to the outcome of public consultation, that the directive should be transported into UK law early in 2007, leading to full implementation on 1 July 2007.

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The consultation document will be placed on the DTI website so that it is available to the wider public. The consultation period will run for 12 weeks, with a closing date for comments of 17 October 2006. Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Unfair Terms in Contracts

The Minister for Trade (Mr. Ian McCartney): The Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission published a report on unfair terms in contracts in February 2005 (Law Com No. 292; Scots Law Com no. 199). It set out detailed recommendations, together with a draft Bill designed to produce a unified regime replacing the Unfair Contracts Terms Act 1977 and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 for the whole of the UK in a way that is much clearer and easier to follow, and also addressed some gaps in protection that the Commissions identified. I am grateful for the Law Commissions’ detailed and comprehensive report and for their extensive consultations on the issues involved, and appreciate their commitment to this project.

This project was undertaken jointly by the Law Commissions at the request of both the Department of Trade and Industry and the then Lord Chancellor’s Department—now the Department for Constitutional Affairs. The Government have carefully considered the Law Commissions’ report and are content in principle to accept the recommendations for reform. This acceptance is subject to further consideration of the detail of the issues, and to further work to identify potential cost impacts. The proposed legislation will be subject to full public consultation.

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