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Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 16 November 2006


Double Taxation Agreement (Macedonia)

The Paymaster General (Dawn Primarolo): A new double taxation agreement with Macedonia was signed on 8 November 2006. After signature, the text of the agreement was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and made available on HM Revenue and Customs' website. The text of the agreement will be scheduled to a draft order in council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.

Pre-Budget Report

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gordon Brown): I propose to present the Pre-Budget Report to the House of Commons on Wednesday 6 December.

Cabinet Office

Social Enterprise Action Plan

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Edward Miliband): Today we are publishing the “Social Enterprise action plan: Scaling new heights”.

There are at least 55,000 social enterprises in the UK, generating more than £27 billion turnover and contributing more than £8 billion to GDP a year.

Since the launch of the Government social enterprise strategy in 2002, the Government have created a new legal form, the community interest company; improved business support and advice and the availability of finance; and supported the establishment of the social enterprise coalition to provide a unified voice for the sector to work with Government in raising the profile of social enterprise.

Building on this progress, the action plan is about creating the conditions for social enterprises to thrive as part of a next phase of support, and sets out the Government's role to take actions forward as part of their continuing commitment to social enterprise.

This action plan commits us to:

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Copies of the action plan have been placed in the Library for the reference of Members and are also available in the Vote Office.

The action plan is also available on the Cabinet Office website at www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/thirdsector.

Communities and Local Government

London Fire and Emergency Plannning Authority

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Angela E. Smith): The Department for Communities and Local Government has today announced additional investment in the order of £52 million, under the private finance initiative, for a project proposed by London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA).

This PFI project will allow LFEPA to build 10 new community fire stations, replacing 10 old fire stations, helping it to save more lives through improved response times and by providing fire safety advice to the communities which will help to reduce the number of accidental fire deaths in the home.

The amount agreed for this PFI project is in addition to the £125 million investment announced in October 2005 for individual projects from Staffordshire and Gloucestershire as well as a joint project put forward by Lancashire, Merseyside and Cumbria Fire and Rescue Authorities.



The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): With the expiry of the call-out order made last November, a new order has been made under section 54 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to enable reservists to continue to be called out into service to support operations in Afghanistan. The new order is effective until 11 November 2007. Reservists are making a valuable contribution to operations in that country and some 380 reservists are currently called out in support of the operation.

Falklands Conflict Commemoration

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg): I am pleased to be able to provide further details of our plans to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict in June 2007.

The commemorations will provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the events of 25 years ago. We will take time to remember those who gave their lives to defend the freedom of the Falkland Islands. As well as
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the principal events in London, Pangbourne and Stanley, we anticipate that local communities and veterans’ groups around the country may wish to organise their own smaller scale events.

Our relationship with Argentina has come a long way in recent years and, in addition to remembering the sacrifices of our forces, we will recognise their losses too. Our commemorations will not be triumphalist.

Official events begin on Liberation Day Thursday 14 June at the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel in the grounds of Pangbourne Nautical College, Berkshire. This service of commemoration and remembrance is held annually on behalf of the Falklands Families Association, but will have special significance in 2007 when it will be attended by senior members of the royal family, and carried live on BBC.

Later that day (UK time) attention will turn to the Falkland Islands and the first of a series of live link-ups with the islands. A service at Christchurch Cathedral, Stanley will be followed by an Act of Commemoration at the Falklands War Memorial, and British Forces currently based on the islands will parade through Stanley exercising the freedom that was bestowed on them by the Falkland Islands Government in 2002.

The showpiece event of these commemorations will be on Sunday 17 June. This will consist of a high impact visual event on Horse Guards parade followed by a march past of veterans and their modern day service counterparts up the Mall to Buckingham palace to witness a fly past of aircraft from the Falklands era as well as some of those flown by the same squadrons today. Central to the event will be the personal recollections of veterans and islanders as they tell their stories in their own words.

The events will be focussed on the veterans and their families and we are working closely with the South Atlantic Medal Association 82—the principal association for those involved in ‘Operation Corporate’, along with a wide range of veterans and families organisations. I hope that as many as possible of the campaign’s veterans will be able to attend the event on Horse Guards parade. Space in the audience will be limited, so tickets will initially be restricted to veterans (military and civilian), widows, their guests and families. Details can be found on the Veterans Agency’s website at: www.veteransagency.mod.uk or by contacting the Veterans’ Agency helpline on 0800 169 2277.

A limited number of seats for the Horse Guards event are available to hon. Members; the Speaker’s Office will issue tickets in due course.


NHS Financial Performance

The Secretary of State for Health (Ms Patricia Hewitt): On 9 November 2006, my Department published the NHS financial report for the second quarter of 2006-07. This report shows that the NHS as a whole is forecasting a £94 million deficit for the year, after the application of a £350 million contingency established by the strategic health authorities.

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On the basis of trends in previous years, our objective of net financial balance across the NHS remains deliverable. Strategic health authorities have reported that they will be able to generate a further net contingency of £100 million to offset the deficit.

The report is available in the Library, and copies for hon. Members and noble Lords are available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. The report has also been published on the Department’s website at:

Dignity in Care

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Ivan Lewis): On 14 November I was pleased to announce a £67 million investment of additional financial aid to further the dignity agenda in care homes.

The money, available next year, will help local authorities enhance the physical environment of care homes providing nursing or personal care to older people. This focused support will help older people living in care homes to do so with dignity and will enable care homes to be more responsive to the needs of older residents.

A good environment can support dignity and help people feel that they are being treated with respect and even small enhancements can have a positive impact on well-being. I hope that local authorities, care home providers and their residents will work together to find innovative ways of using this additional money to deliver higher standards of care.

I announced this funding at the launch of the dignity in care campaign through which I aim to stimulate a country-wide debate about the importance of care services respecting the dignity of those who use them.

At the campaign launch, I invited people to join me in taking up the dignity challenge. The challenge is a clear statement of what people can expect from a service that respects dignity, backed up by “dignity tests” that can be used by services see how they measure up.

I also invited people to join a new network of local champions of dignity charged with challenging poor practice and raising the profile of dignity in care locally. Support for the champions and service providers will be available in the form of an online practice guide and a programme of service improvement and network support to be delivered regionally. Other aspects of the campaign include working with Investors in People UK to help us ensure staff themselves are treated with dignity and respect and a commitment from the health and social care regulators to take forward this agenda.

More details about the dignity in care campaign, the dignity challenge and how to join the champions network can be found at: www.dh.gov.uk/dignityincare.

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Home Department

Police Pay

The Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety (Mr. Tony McNulty): On 6 November the police arbitration tribunal’s recommendation on the police officer 2006 pay award was received. The Home Secretary responded to this recommendation, agreeing to implement the 3 per cent. pay rise for police officers with effect from 1 September 2006. The Home Secretary also noted the tribunal’s comment that we not only had “the right but a duty to consider and put forward different factors and approaches which could be applied in determining police pay” and said that he would be reviewing the way police pay is determined including indexation and would announce the terms of reference of the review shortly.

Effective pay arrangements for police officers are essential for a modern police service which delivers high standards of community safety and security to the public. We must move quickly to put police officer pay on a sustainable basis. We cannot continue with arrangements which produce pay rises beyond the level which police authorities can afford to pay without detriment to service delivery. For that reason, we will establish a review of the way police pay is determined, reporting early in the new year and in good time to inform the 2007 pay round. Following this I will also be asking this review to consider further changes to the police pay negotiating machinery. In particular, I am minded to place responsibility for determining chief officer pay within the remit of the senior salaries review body and the review I have announced will look at this as part of its consideration of the options for replacing the current police officer pay determination arrangements.

I have asked Sir Clive Booth to undertake the first part of this review and I am pleased to announce that he has accepted. Sir Clive will report to me in early 2007 with recommendations on the pay determination mechanism that we should use for next year. This along with any other proposals for pay modernisation from the service or representative organisations will be considered in the 2007 pay round. The Home Secretary and I will consider further how the second part of the review looking at the police negotiating machinery should be taken forward including consideration of John Randall’s report on this issue.

The terms of reference for the review are:

Part 1—To consider the options for replacing the current arrangements for determining changes to police officer pay for 2007 and make recommendations on this. The conclusions and recommendations in part 1 to be framed so as to inform part 2 of the review.

Part 2—To review the effectiveness of the negotiating machinery for the police, including the Police Negotiating Board and the Police Staff Council, and make recommendations for how police pay and other conditions of service should be determined. The review must consider the option of a pay review body for police pay and consider the impact of any proposal for determining police officer pay, on the negotiating machinery for police officers.

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Both parts of the review must take account of the need for arrangements to reflect and support the following:

Part 1 should report no later than February 2007, and part 2 in the autumn of 2007.

New Powers Against Organised and Financial Crime

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Vernon Coaker): Tomorrow I will publish the summary of responses to the recent Home Office consultation document entitled “New Powers Against Organised and Financial Crime”.

The Green Paper was published on 17 July 2006 and invited views from stakeholders and the public on a comprehensive package of new measures that the Government believe will provide important new tools to assist the authorities in tackling organised criminality more effectively. The proposals included:

During its three-month consultation period the Green Paper generated more than l00 responses, summaries of which will be published tomorrow. The majority of responses received were overwhelmingly supportive of the proposals. As a result, the Government intend to introduce legislation in the coming session of Parliament; the overall aim being to prevent the UK from being an attractive option for organised criminals to operate in.

Copies of the document entitled “New Powers Against Organised and Financial Crime—Summary of responses to Consultation” will be available in the House of Commons Library and on the Home Office and Crime Reduction websites.

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