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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 6 November 2006


ECOFIN - 7 November

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gordon Brown): Items on the agenda are as follows:

Financial Management—Ministers will receive a presentation from Hubert Weber, the President of the Court of Auditors, on the Court of Auditors’ report on the 2005 general Budget.

Statistics: 2006 Status Report and EU Statistical Governance—ECOFIN will be invited to adopt conclusions on the Economic and Financial Committee’s 2006 status report and other statistical issues.

Sustainability of Public Finances: Sustainability Report—Ministers will hold an exchange of views on the Commission report regarding the sustainability of public finances and will be invited to adopt conclusions.

Excise Duties: Minimum Rates on Alcoholic Beverages—ECOFIN will discuss issues relating to the minimum excise rates on alcoholic beverages and agree a general approach.

VAT and Excise Duties: Travellers’ Allowances Directive—Ministers will discuss issues relating to the Travellers’ Allowances Directive.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Sanctions Regimes

The Minister for the Middle East (Dr. Kim Howells): The Government have committed themselves to informing Parliament on an annual basis of the sanctions regimes being implemented by the United Kingdom. Currently the United Kingdom implements United Nations sanctions in relation to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Somalia. The UK also implements sanctions regimes imposed autonomously by the EU in relation to Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burma, China, the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (in connection with individuals indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia), Moldova, Sudan and Zimbabwe. In accordance with a decision of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the United Kingdom implements arms embargoes on Armenia
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and Azerbaijan. The Government also take full account of the Economic Community of West African States moratorium on certain exports of small arms and light weapons to Economic Community of West African States members. A full list of sanctions regimes and restrictive measures implemented by the UK has been published on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at: www.fco.gov.uk/sanctions


Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust (Learning Disability Services)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Ivan Lewis): The joint investigation by the Healthcare Commission and Commission for Social Care Inspection into learning disability services at Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust identified systematic abuse of people in a number of the trust’s learning disability services. In response to the publication of the Commission’s joint report on 6 July 2006, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I made a commitment to ensure progress against the local and national recommendations made in that report. This commitment to maintain an ongoing involvement and focus on improvements was our recognition of the severity of what was uncovered in Cornwall and the need for significant change locally, as well as the need to ensure that the circumstances that led to those events do not occur elsewhere.

As stated in my written ministerial statement on6 July 2006, Official Report, column 48WS, and my right hon. Friend’s response to an urgent question on the matter on 11 July 2006, Official Report, columns 1253-61, Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust was placed on special measures following a recommendation by the Healthcare Commission. Although the special measures apply directly to Cornwall Partnership Trust, the trust, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust, NHS South West and Cornwall county council have developed an action plan to deliver on the recommendations stemming from the investigation’s findings. The strategic health authority, the Healthcare Commission and Commission for Social Care Inspection have agreed this action plan and the local NHS and county council in Cornwall are working in partnership to deliver on the action plan. Progress is subject to quarterly reviews between the Department, the Commissions, the local NHS and Cornwall County Council and covers both the special measures and all the local recommendations in the Commission’s joint inspection report. The multi-agency action plan identifies both critical early actions to particular and immediate change as well as actions for longer-term sustainability. The external team appointed on the recommendation of the Healthcare Commission will remain in place for a period of 12 months, as recommended in the report. Progress against these actions will be subject to a review by the regulators in July 2007 that will report back to my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State.

Progress at a local level is encouraging, with a clear agreement for action to be taken forward. The
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university of Birmingham is undertaking an external review of the trust’s board and will report to the SHA in November. The review will assess the robustnessof existing working arrangements and make recommendations for improvement.

Progress is being made locally on commissioning modern community services and appropriate supported living schemes to ensure that people are living in suitable settings—this work is taking into consideration the needs of people who were living in Budock hospital and the trust’s supported living services, as well as future commissioning requirements. Work on developing a strategic commissioning framework will include the integration and redesign of services together with workforce development and training.

A multi-agency team, led by Cornwall county council, is meeting monthly to ensure an overview of all adult protection issues. Police investigations are continuing and, to date, no charges have been brought. A new adult protection police constable has been appointed and is working with local services. Progress is being made with the development of local self-advocacy and carers groups, including engagement with national and local organisations with expertise in family leadership and advocacy.

Progress continues to be made in respect ofthe investigation’s national recommendations on registration of services, assessments and person-centred planning, safeguarding and robust local arrangements for dealing with abuse:

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As stated in July, the Healthcare Commission will be carrying out an audit of all learning disability health services provided by the NHS and independent sector. This audit is currently being piloted in three locations and will be rolled out nationally in January 2007. The Healthcare Commission will start engaging with services now to ensure that they are well prepared to respond robustly to the audit. The national health service chief executive’s letter to strategic health authorities has set out our expectations for compliance with the Healthcare Commission’s audit and the importance of effective commissioning and delivery of learning disability services. This makes clear that inthe light of what has happened in Cornwall and the subsequent formal investigation report by the Disability Rights Commission into health inequalities experienced by people with learning disabilities and mental health problems, strategic health authorities and primary care trusts should ensure they have sufficient skilled learning disability commissioning capacity in their establishments and that these people should engage in local and regional inter-agency “Valuing People” development work. The Department will strengthen the commissioning of learning disability services, and we will consider a stronger role for local authorities as part of this.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health, has written to national health service chairs asking them to working closely with their chief executives on this agenda.

In addition, the Department’s newly appointed director general of social care has written to directors of adult social services reminding them of their duty to provide assessments of people’s needs as set out in the NHS and Community Care Act 1990.

A further update to the House on overall national progress across the learning disability agenda will be made in December 2006.


Transport Innovation Fund

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Douglas Alexander): In a written statement to the House on28 November 2005, Official Report, columns 3-4WS the then Secretary of State for Transport announced that we were awarding pump-priming for the transport innovation fund (TIF) to seven areas to develop packages of schemes that combined hard demand management measures, such as road pricing, with better public transport.

In May 2006 we invited authorities to bid forthe second round of pump-priming. I was greatly encouraged by the innovative thinking demonstrated in the 21 bids received.

I am today announcing pump-priming funding for nine areas to develop schemes. We are awarding
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additional funding to six of the seven areas already in receipt of funds from the first round. They are:

We are also awarding funding to three new areas. They are:

The local authorities in all these areas will be developing proposals for packages of schemes. All of them are planning to look at local road pricing as part
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of their consideration of demand management options. This award means that ten areas across England are giving serious consideration to local road pricing schemes. This work could lead to pilots which will help to inform discussion on a national road pricing scheme, providing experience on the ground and sealeable propositions in respect of the technology.

I should be clear that receipt of this pump-priming funding is no guarantee that an authority will be successful in bidding for the main transport innovation fund. We are, however, committed to working closely with the successful authorities to deliver the work programmes set out in their pump priming bids, to support future decisions on the main transport innovation fund and on road pricing more broadly.

We will also work with other local authorities which have promising ideas for demand management and this decision does not affect their ability to bid for substantive TIF funding in the future

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