9 Jan 2007 : Column 5WS

Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 9 January 2007


Children and Young People's Review

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ed Balls): Budget 2006 announced that the second comprehensive spending review would be informed by a series of policy reviews. One of the reviews announced at the Budget was a joint HM Treasury and Department for Education and Skills policy review of children and young people. A discussion paper setting out the evidence collected to date by this review is published today and is available in the Vote Office and the Library of the House.

The Government's approach has transformed the life chances of children since 1997. For example, 700,000 children have been lifted out of relative poverty in the six years to 2004-05; 98 per cent. of three and four-year-olds have taken up the national entitlement to free early years education and Government action has improved primary and secondary school standards. However, in “Support for parents: the best start for children”, published at the 2005 pre-Budget Report, HM Treasury and the Department for Education and Skills identified further steps to be taken to improve the outcomes for children and young people.

The discussion paper, published today, sets out and evaluates the evidence collected to date to inform the review's work to consider how services for children and young people and their families can build on the three principles identified in “Support for parents: the best start for children” —rights and responsibilities; progressive universalism and prevention to improve outcomes for children and young people.

Under the umbrella of the children and young people's review, sub-reviews are considering:

The review will report in spring 2007 with recommendations to inform and influence the 2007 comprehensive spending review.

Cabinet Office

National School of Government

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr. Pat McFadden): Further to the written ministerial statement by my hon. Friend the then Parliamentary
9 Jan 2007 : Column 6WS
Secretary for the Cabinet Office (Jim Murphy), 30 March 2006, Official Report, column 75WS, about our intentions for the future status of the National School of Government, I am able to announce today that the National School is now a non-ministerial Department.

The change of status is one of the outcomes from the review of the role and functions of the Cabinet Office conducted by Sir Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary. Although the National School will be non-ministerial in the sense that the Minister will not normally need to become involved in its day-to-day management, the Minister for the Cabinet Office will retain ultimate accountability to Parliament for the new Department.

Details of the role and function of the National School will be set out in a Strategy Document to be published early in 2007.

Communities and Local Government

Arms Length Management Organisations

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Yvette Cooper : I am today announcing funding allocations for arm’s length management organisations, ALMOs, in 17 local authority areas totalling £485 million.

Some 12 round 4 ALMOs in Bassetlaw, Bury, Ealing, Eastbourne, Hammersmith and Fulham, Manchester, Newark and Sherwood, Nottingham, Rotherham, Sandwell, Slough and Wolverhampton and six round 2 ALMOs in Bolton, Carrick, Hillingdon and Leeds, where there are 3 ALMOs, will receive £468 million in allocations for 2007-08.

In addition, Waltham Forest, which originally set up its ALMO under round 2 of the programme, will receive £17 million in recognition of several years work to improve its performance and now finally achieving the required standard to make it eligible for funding.

Full details of the allocations are set out in the table.

Local AuthorityALMO Allocation for 2007-08













Hammersmith and Fulham




Leeds (3 ALMOs)




Newark and Sherwood










Waltham Forest




9 Jan 2007 : Column 7WS

This funding will enable these ALMOs to carry on with their crucial work of improving the quality of homes occupied by social rented tenants. The continuation of funding recognises how successful ALMOs are being in not only providing new roofs, new windows, new kitchens and central heating, but also in delivering better and more efficient services to tenants.

ALMOs are playing a key role in delivering wider Government initiatives. They are supporting the creation of more mixed communities and are creating job opportunities for local people through new apprenticeship and training schemes. They are taking the lead in developing innovative and successful approaches to tackling anti-social behaviour through the respect agenda.

The resources allocated today are from the funding made available in the 2004 spending review. Throughout the country 56 ALMOs are managing more than 828,000 homes and spending £840 million each year on bringing them up to the Government’s decent homes standard through their refurbishing and modernising programmes.

Decisions on allocations beyond 2007-08 will be considered in the context of the spending review.

I have been impressed with the achievements of the ALMO programme to date and remain committed to our objective of making all social housing decent.

Constitutional Affairs

Limitation of Actions Bill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Vera Baird): My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, has today made the following written ministerial statement:


Combined Cadet Force Expansion

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg): I am pleased to announce that the schools selected to take part in the trial expansion of the Combined Cadet Force further into the state school sector will be:

9 Jan 2007 : Column 8WS

We are in active dialogue with a school in Scotland and hope we can announce their participation in due course.

MOD will now begin the process of training of the teachers and staff from the schools who have volunteered to take part in the pilot scheme. This process will involve attending courses at the Cadet Training Centre, training sessions with the local Cadet Training Teams and participation at cadet camps. This activity will continue through to the summer of 2007. We expect the first pupils to enrol as cadets in the new contingents, as planned, at the start of the academic year 2007-08.

The MOD remains fully committed to supporting the opportunities which the Combined Cadet Force, through the unique educational partnership established between the MOD and the individual school, is able to provide. It is this range of personal development and educational opportunities that enables the Combined Cadet Force to stand out amongst other youth organisations, thereby acting as a genuine force for good for the young people who join, the schools in which they are based as well as for the communities in which they live. We are determined therefore to ensure this pilot scheme will allow many more young people to enjoy the full cadet experience.

Reserve Forces

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): With the expiry of the call-out order made last January, a new order has been made under section 54 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 so that reservists may continue to be called out into service to support operations in Iraq. The new order is valid for 12 months.

Some 640 reservists are currently mobilised to support operations in Iraq. We are very appreciative of the continuing support and commitment shown by both reservists and their employers.


National Patient Safety Agency Accounts 2005-06

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Andy Burnham): The annual report and accounts and any accompanying Comptroller and Auditor General report for the National Patient Safety Agency has today been laid before Parliament pursuant to section 98(1C) of the National Health Service Act 1977.

Copies have been placed in the Library.

9 Jan 2007 : Column 9WS

International Development

Progress on Debt Relief

The Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn): Since my last statement in July, there has been further progress on debt relief for poor countries.

Debt cancellation under the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) was implemented at the African Development Fund (AfDF) of the African Development Bank on 1 September 2006, with relief backdated to 1 January 2006. The MDRI agreed at Gleneagles has therefore now been delivered at the IMF, the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank and at the AfDF. Over US $38 billion (approximately £20 billion) of debts for 21 heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs), as well as two other non-HIPCs, Cambodia and Tajikistan at the IMF, have now been cancelled under MDRI. A further 22 countries will have their debts cancelled when they complete the HIPC process.

There are many good examples of the use countries are making of their savings under the MDRI(1). Cameroon is using the US $29.8 million of savings it will gain from the MDRI in 2006 for national poverty reduction priorities, including infrastructure, social sector and governance reforms. Uganda is using its US $57.9 million savings in 2006 on improving energy infrastructure to try to ease acute electricity shortages, as well as primary education, malaria control, healthcare and water infrastructure (specifically targeting the poor and under-served villages). Zambia is using its savings of US $23.8 million under the MDRI in 2006 to increase spending on agricultural projects on smallholder irrigation and livestock disease control, as well as eliminate fees for healthcare in rural areas.

There has also been good progress in the heavily indebted poor countries, HIPC, initiative. Some 21 countries have now completed the HIPC initiative, with Malawi and Sierra Leone the most recent to do so in August and December 2006 respectively. Upon reaching HIPC completion point, Malawi and Sierra Leone received 100 per cent. bilateral debt cancellation from the UK, as well as debt cancellation under HIPC and the MDRI. Haiti reached HIPC decision point in November, and will now receive interim debt relief. Debt relief worth US $61.2 billion has been delivered or committed for 30 countries under HIPC to date.

The UK remains committed to the full financing and implementation of HIPC and the MDRI. We have recently contributed £10 million to the HIPC trust fund towards the costs of debt cancellation for Malawi at the Afican Development Bank, and made a generous pledge towards the trust fund's overall financing needs in the next three to four years. The UK will also contribute £1.3 million towards the costs of clearing the Central African Republic's arrears to the African Development Bank, an essential prerequisite for the bank's re-engagement in the country and for CAR to qualify for debt relief in due course.

Last autumn, after strong lobbying by the UK, the international community agreed to remove the requirement—known as the HIPC sunset clause—that
9 Jan 2007 : Column 10WS
countries must have started a programme of support with the IMF by the end of 2006 to remain eligible for debt relief. All 13 countries that have yet to reach HIPC decision point will therefore still be able to qualify for debt relief.

The UK supports debt relief for all poor countries—not just HIPCs—that would use the savings to progress towards the millennium development goals. We therefore continue to offer debt relief (reimbursements of 10 per cent. of debt service payments to IDA and the AfDF) to qualifying low income countries under the UK multilateral debt relief initiative. Moldova recently qualified for this assistance, bringing the total number of recipients to seven countries.

The UK is working with the World Bank, IMF, African Development Bank and other development partners to ensure that countries that have benefited from debt relief can access the financing they need to reach the millennium development goals, without re-accumulating unsustainable levels of debt. The joint World Bank/IMF debt sustainability framework provides guidance on new borrowing and lending to low income countries. Countries that may struggle to repay loans receive grants from the World Bank and African Development Bank instead. The UK is also leading efforts among export credit agencies to agree new guidelines on responsible lending to countries that have received debt relief. It is important that borrowers and lenders work together to ensure any new borrowing is appropriately concessional, well-targeted and used for productive purposes.

(1) As reported by recipient countries to the World Bank and IMF

Next Section Index Home Page