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Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 7 December 2006

Treasury

Budget ECOFIN

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ed Balls): On 21 November 2006 I represented the UK at the Budget Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).

Finance Ministers agreed to adopt preliminarydraft amending budget number 6 to the 2006 budget, thus amending the 2006 budget to reflect latest implementation capacity.

Finance Ministers agreed to adopt amending letters two and three to the preliminary draft budget for 2007, which reflected latest information on agricultural prices and other developments.

The Council reached agreement in second readingon the EU's draft general budget for 2007, subject to formal confirmation at a forthcoming Council. It requested the Permanent Representatives Committee to continue negotiations on points that remain open between the Council and the European Parliament following a conciliation meeting with a parliamentary delegation.

Communities and Local Government

Planning Policy (Flooding)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Angela E. Smith): To strengthen and clarify the key role of the planning system in managing flood risk and contributing to adapting to the impacts of climate change, we are today publishing:

PPS25 replaces the existing PPG25, issued in 2001, and sets out policies for planning authorities to:

The flooding direction provides the opportunity for greater scrutiny for major developments proposed in flood risk areas. Where local authorities intend to approve major applications despite the Environment
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Agency maintaining its objections, the Secretary of State will be asked to consider whether to call them in for decision.

These documents are supported by regulations made on 1 October 2006 which made the Environment Agency a statutory consultee for planning applications in flood risk areas. This reinforces implementation of PPS25 by ensuring that the agency is able to advise on all applications where flood risk is an issue.

Flooding from rivers and tidal water is set to increase in frequency and intensity as a result of known climate change. The substantial upgrading from PPG25 in PPS25 is an important climate change adaptation measure. It forms part of the Government’s “Making Space for Water Strategy” and delivers on a project jointly launched by my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Keith Hill), the then Minister for Housing and Planning, and my hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley), the then Minister for Environment and Agri-environment in March 2005.

PPS25 is therefore a key part of our developing programme of responses to the challenge of climate change. It complements a comprehensive packageof planning policy and building standards to be announced shortly that will chart a course towards zero carbon development, and embed carbon reduction principles in future development.

PPS25 also strongly supports the strategy for housing set out in PPS3 on 29 November. In our drive for increasing housing supply and in particular by making more use of previously developed land, we need a strong set of tools to assess flood risk. We must avoid those areas where housing development is never going to acceptable. But we must also identify those where, with good design and local mitigation measures, it is possible to manage the risk and still build safely.

Copies of PPS25 and the circular and flooding direction are being made available in the Librariesof both Houses. PPS25 will be available on the Communities and Local Government website at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1504639 and the circular at: http://www.comunities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1504645.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (Fatalities)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Angela E. Smith): The House will be aware of the tragic events on Sunday 3 December at the Festival Fireworks Depot, Marlie Farm, Ringmer, near Lewes, which resulted in the deaths of Geoffrey Wicker and Brian Wembridge, two members of East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, and of the injuries sustained by twelve other people. Among those injured were nine firefighters, a police officer and two members of the public.

Mr. Wicker and Mr. Wembridge were among60 members of the Fire and Rescue Service in attendance during the initial stages of the incident. The full events leading to the deaths and injuries are as yet unclear and an investigation by the Police, Health and Safety Executive and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is ongoing.


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I fully recognise the contribution that the fire and rescue services make to our communities and the situations they face on a daily basis. I would like to take this opportunity to express my personal sadness at this tragic event. At this time my thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues of those who died, and with those who were injured. To all of them I extend my heart felt sympathy.

Once the investigations have been completed, I will make a further statement to the House.

Defence

Project Taranis

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg): We are today announcing the award of a £124 million contract to BAE Systems for Project Taranis, a project to develop unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology. BAE Systems will lead an industry team including Rolls-Royce, Qinetiq, and Smiths Aerospace.

Project Taranis will explore how cutting edge technology can be integrated into the UAV to deliver a new front line capability. Taranis will be one of the world’s largest UAV demonstrators, about the size of a Hawk jet, and will integrate stealth technology around an intelligent, autonomous system. It will also test the potential to carry ground attack weapons.

The project is a key deliverable of the defence industrial strategy, targeting the development and sustainment of key industrial expertise in the aerospace sector. It is an example of the Ministry of Defence and industry jointly funding research and development for mutual benefit and the rapid pull through of new technologies encouraged in the defence technology strategy. It will adopt an innovative approach with military staff and scientists working alongside industry in a new partnership to deliver better transparency and information sharing.

War Pension Uprating

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg): The new rates of war pensions and allowances proposed from April 2007 are set out in the tables. The annual uprating of war pensions and allowances for 2007 will take place from the week beginning 9 April.


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War Pensions Rates
(Weekly rates unless otherwise shown)Rates (2006)Rates (2007)

Disablement Pension (100% rates)

officer (£ per annum)

7034.00

7290.00

other ranks

134.80

139.70

Age allowances

40%-50%

9.5

9.40

over 50% but not over 70%

13.85

14.35

over 70% but not over 90%

19.75

20.45

over 90%

27.70

28.70

Disablement gratuity

specified minor injury (min.)

858.00

889.00

specified minor injury (max.)

64103.00

6643.00

unspecified minor injury (min.)

354.00

367.00

unspecified minor injury (max.)

8337.00

8637.00

Unemployability allowance

personal

83.35

86.35

adult dependency increase

46.95

48.65

increase for first child

10.90

11.30

increase for subsequent children

12.85

13.30

Invalidity allowance

higher rate

16.50

17.10

middle rate

10.30

11.00

lower rate

5.30

5.50

Constant attendance allowance

exceptional rate

101.80

105.40

intermediate rate

76.35

79.05

full day rate

50.90

52.70

part-day rate

25.45

26.35

Comforts allowance

Higher rate

21.80

22.60

Lower rate

10.90

11.30

Mobility supplement

48.55

50.30

Allowance for lowered standard of occupation (maximum)

50.84

52.68

Therapeutic earnings limit

4212.00

4472.00

Exceptionally severe disablement allowance

50.90

52.70

Severe disablement occupational allowance

25.45

26.35

Clothing allowance (£ per annum)

174.00

180.00

Education allowance (£ per annum) (max.)

120.00

120.00

Widow (er)s —private

102.20

105.90

Widow (er)s’ (other ranks)

102.20

105.90

Widow (er) — officer (3 per annum) (max.)

6298.00

105.90

Childless widow (er)s’ u-40 (other ranks)

24.49

25.37

Childless widow (er)s’ u-40 (Officer max. 3s pa)

6298.00

6525.00

Supplementary Pension

68.42

70.88

Age allowance

(a) age 65 to 69

11.70

12.10

(b) age 70 to 79

22.40

23.20

(c) age 80 and over

33.20

34.40

Children’s allowance

Increase for the first child

16.05

16.65

Increase for subsequent children

17.95

18.60

Orphan’s pension

Increase for first child

18.30

18.95

Increase for subsequent children

20.10

20.80

Unmarried dependant living as spouse (max.)

99.85

103.55

Rent allowance (max.)

38.55

39.95

Adult orphan’s pension (max.)

78.50

81.35


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