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Written Ministerial Statements

The following statements were received between Monday 4 September and Friday 8 September 2006

Cabinet Office

Publication of Public Bodies Directory

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr. Pat McFadden): I am pleased to announce that the 2006 version of the “Public Bodies Directory” has now been completed and copies of the directory are available in the Library for the Reference of Members. The directory provides information on individual public bodies as at 31 March 2006. The directory is also accessible at: http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/other/agencies/public_bodies/index.asp. This shows that at 31 March 2006 there was a reduction of 28 long-term public bodies since the same date in 2005.

The directory lists the public bodies sponsored by central Government, with contact details, information about their remit and about the membership of their boards. It also introduces a new category within the public bodies classifications; Public Broadcasting Authorities. This recognises the unique governance arrangements pertaining to the BBC and S4C, which set them apart from other non-Departmental bodies and public corporations.

The board membership figures are broken down between male and female members for individual bodies, and summaries are provided at departmental level for the proportions of board members who are women, have declared they have a disability or come from a minority ethnic background. There have been small increases in all categories. As at 31 March 2006, 35.5 per cent. of appointments made were women (up 0.5 per cent. on the position at 31 March 2005), 5.9 per cent. were members of ethnic minority groups (up 0.4 per cent.) and 5.1 per cent. were to those declaring a disability (up 0.8 per cent.).

A cross-Government summary of individual Departments’ figures will be placed on the public appointments website at: www.publicappointments. gov.uk. This reinforces the Government’s commitment to continue to pursue its diversity objectives and to promote outreach activity and plans.

The directory also includes information about the Government’s Task Forces, Ad-hoc Advisory Groups and Reviews, giving a more complete picture of the bodies and groups working to deliver the Government’s objectives.

Social Exclusion Action Plan

The Minister for the Cabinet Office (Hilary Armstrong): Today we are publishing the “Social Exclusion Action Plan”.

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We have much to be proud of in our efforts to tackle poverty, promote social justice and create the right environment for sustained economic growth.

However, a consequence of this success is that the more modest progress of some specific groups within our society has become more apparent.

This Action Plan is the first step towards changing that. It aims to create the conditions to allow everybody to accept opportunity, reach their full potential and play their full part in society.

This Action Plan marks a new direction for the Government’s social exclusion policy. It commits us to:

The Action Plan outlines how these principles will be applied or piloted for excluded groups throughout the lifetime—during the early years, the childhood years and the adult years. Implementing more focused and immediate interventions will supplement and inform deeper systemic reform.

Copies of the Action Plan have been placed in the Library for the reference of Members.

Communities and Local Government

Ordnance Survey Agency Performance Monitors

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Angela E. Smith): The following performance targets have been set for Ordnance Survey in 2006-07:

Ordnance Survey will report externally against a set of Agency Performance Monitors (APMs) as required of all Executives Agencies in Government:

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These targets reflect Ordnance Survey’s continuing commitment to customers, improved value for money for all of its stakeholders and commitment to Government policies.


Iraq Roulement - Theatre Reserve Battalion

The Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne): On 18 July in a written ministerial statement I confirmed the details of the force package for the next routine roulement of UK forces in Iraq in November when the lead UK formation, currently 20 Armoured Brigade, will be replaced by 19 Light Brigade. I would now like to confirm some of the details of preparations for this roulement. As for previous roulements, elements of the Theatre Reserve Battalion, currently the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, will be deployed to provide additional security during what is always a period of intense activity for UK forces. There will also be some additional support aimed at contributing to improving security in Basra city.

In total this involves approximately 360 additional personnel. They will begin deploying shortly and complete their work not later than January 2007.

This is a critical period for the Iraqi people and their Government. There is an opportunity to improve significantly the security situation in Basra city—building on, and reinforcing, recent progress in Baghdad. Improved security in Basra will create the conditions for the important civil development work being led by the UK’s Provincial Reconstruction Team. Therefore I have agreed that the deployment of troops from the Theatre Reserve Battalion, while strictly time limited, should on this occasion be brought forward and extended by a short period. In addition, I have also authorised the deployment of Royal Engineers to assist with reconstruction and countering the threat from improvised explosive devices, a Royal Marine boat troop to assist in tightening security on the Shatt Al Arab waterway, and a troop of Royal Military Police to augment our training of the Iraqi Police.

We ask our servicemen and women to discharge difficult and dangerous tasks. But over the next few months, through security operations and civil development projects, we have a key opportunity to make improvements to the lives of the people of Basra and lay the foundations for the departure, once the conditions are right, of coalition forces from front line roles in Iraq.

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Education and Skills

Annual Uprating of Loans, Grants and Fees for Higher Education Students

The Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning (Bill Rammell): The level of support for loans, grants and fees that will be available to eligible students in the 2007-08 academic year will be 2.33 per cent. higher than for 2006-07, in line with forecast price increases.

For students who have entered higher education on or after 1st September 2006, and are being charged variable fees, the maximum fee payable will increase from £3,000 to £3,070 in 2007-08. The increase to the fee will be matched by a corresponding increase to the loan for fees that students can take out.

For students who are not being charged variable fees (primarily students who entered higher education before 1 September 2006), the maximum fee payable will increase from £1,200 to £1,225.

The increased fee amounts have been authorised by the Student Fees (Amounts) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2006, which will come into force on 1st September 2007.

I am placing a memorandum in the Library giving details of all the increased loan, grant and fee rates for 2007-08. These rates are being incorporated in the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2007, which will be laid before Parliament in due course.

Education and Skills

Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy - 4th Annual Report 2005-06

The Minister for Children and Families (Beverley Hughes): I would inform the House that the Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy has published its Annual Report for 2005-06. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Veterinary Laboratories Agency - Performance Targets 2006-07

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): In my written ministerial statement of 16 May I set out the Performance Targets for the Veterinary Laboratories Agency for 2006-07. The third target listed under Service Delivery in that statement should have had the figure of 80 per cent. rather than 75 per cent. That and all other targets are set out again below.

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Service Delivery





Further details are given in the VLA Business Plan for 2006-07 a copy of which has been provided to the Library of the House.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UK Nominations to the Economic and Social Committee

The Minister for Europe (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): The Government have submitted to the EU Council Secretariat details of the United Kingdom’s 24 nominees for membership of the Economic and Social Committee. The Government have made these nominations on the basis of a fair and transparent selection process to ensure the UK delegation reflects the social and economic diversity of the United Kingdom.

The present four-year term of the ESC ends in September 2006. The UK divides its 24 members equally between Group I (Employers), Group II (Employees) and Group III (Other Interests).

The ESC is a consultative body, which produces Opinions for the Council of Ministers on draft legislation. Additionally the Committee can produce its “Own Opinion” on any other economic or social issue.

The UK has 24 full members in the ESC from a current total membership of 317. There are eight UK members in each of the three groups.

The nominees are:

Employers (Group I)

1. Kenneth Fraser

2. Peter Morgan

3. Madi Sharma

4. Bryan Cassidy

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5. Jonathan Peel

6. David Sears

7. Brendan Burns

8. Brenda King

Employees (Group II)

9. Christine Blower

10. Sandy Boyle

11. Marge Carey

12. Peter Coldrick

13. Nicolas Crook

14. Brian Curtis

15. Judy McKnight

16. Monica Taylor

Other Interests Group (Group III)

17. RoseD’Sa

18. Maureen O’Neill

19. Michael Smyth

20. Jane Morrice

21. Richard Adams

22. Sukhdev Sharma

23. Tom Jones

24. Derek Osborn.

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