The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ed Balls): The Governments long-term approach for financial capability, which is announced today, intends to raise consumers financial capabilitythe knowledge, skills and motivation to actively engage with their financesto achieve lasting benefits for individuals, the financial services industry and the wider UK economy.
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) leads the national strategy on financial capability, working in partnership with the Government, industry and the voluntary sector. In 2006 the FSA identified low levels of financial capability across the UK population, and particularly among young people.
all adults in the UK have access to high quality generic financial advice to help them to engage with their financial affairs and make effective decisions about their money;
all children and young people have access to a planned and coherent programme of personal finance education, so that they leave school with the skills and confidence to manage their money well; and
a range of Government programmes is focused on improving financial capability, particularly to help those who are most vulnerable to the consequences of poor financial decisions.
To meet these aspirations the Government will review their policies and programmes with the potential to raise financial capability. This will include the curriculum, services aimed at children, young people and families, the child trust fund, adult skills, retirement planning, and effective signposting for information on personal finance from a range of Government services. To take forward this agenda the Government will:
set up an independent feasibility study, led by Otto Thoresen, chief executive of AEGON UK, to research and design a national approach to generic financial advice;
establish a ministerial group to develop, oversee and coordinate the Governments work, ensuring a cross-cutting approach to financial capability; and
publish an action plan by the end of 2007, setting out how financial capability will be integrated into existing services, particularly for those most vulnerable to the consequences of poor financial skills.
The Governments long-term approach forges an ambitious agenda that supports the wealth of emerging best practice by the FSA, the voluntary sector and the financial services industry. The Government are seeking views from stakeholders on the issues raised in the document.
The Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Ms Harriet Harman): My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor has made the following written ministerial statement:
I have today laid before the House the Governments response to the Joint Committee on Human Rights report, of 14 November, on the Human Rights Act: the DCA and Home Office Reviews. Copies are available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. The Governments response will also be made available on the Department for Constitutional Affairs website.
I would like to thank the Committee for their response to the DCA and Home Office reviews.
Following the findings of the DCA and Home Office reviews, the Government are continuing to work to equip public authorities to build a human rights culture within their organisations. The Government are pleased that the Committee agrees with the findings of the Home Office and DCA reviews that the Human Rights Act has not significantly impeded the Governments objectives on crime, terrorism or immigration.
The Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): I represented the United Kingdom at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels on 19 to 21 December 2006. Ross Finnie, the Scottish Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, also attended.
I was keen that as many of the decisions taken as possible followed the scientific advice, while at the same time not undermining the long-term viability of the EU fishing industry. In this regard, a significant number of the UKs key priorities were achieved, including TAC increases for certain nephrops and monkfish stocks in line with the science and the resistance of cuts in several stocks which had been proposed purely in response to previous low quota uptake.
The package also included further action to protect cod stocks including modest cuts in days for the UK whitefish fleet (reflecting the significant contribution to effort reduction they have already made), combined with larger cuts for the smaller mesh fisheries to take account of their significant contribution to cod mortality. I was prepared to accept these on the basis that we are now closer to ensuring a more even distribution of the responsibility for delivering cod recovery.
The Council held an exchange of views on Commission proposals for a management plan for plaice and sole in the North Sea. The proposal aims to manage the fisheries exploiting the stocks of North Sea plaice and sole so that they are rebuilt toand then maintainedwithin safe biological limits. I supported
the principle of such a management plan and was keen to encourage its development, providing it did not jeopardise the recovery of cod in the North Sea (with which it would operate in parallel). The Commission are committed to producing a revised plan in the light of the discussion for further consideration in due course.
The Council reached a general approach on a proposal to simplify and update the current regulation on organic food and farming (general approach being the term for an agreement reached before the European Parliament has issued its opinion). The presidency and Commission brokered a compromise which satisfied the UKs principal concerns so I could intervene in support of the compromise but made clear that any future changes to the general approach should be technical and not substantial.
The Agriculture Commissioner presented her proposal for a Single Common Market Organisation (CMO). The proposal aims to consolidate the existing 21 sector-specific CMOs into a single regulation, in an effort to streamline and simplify the legal framework.
Austria and Germany, asked for measures to stabilise the EU sugar market, to prevent massive surpluses of sugar in the marketing year 2007-08 (year two of the implementation of the sugar restructuring scheme).
The Council took note without discussion of a progress report on the negotiations on the Commissions communication on a thematic strategy and accompanying proposal on the sustainable use of pesticides.
On day one of the Council, in the absence of the Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner, the Commission gave an update on the EC-Russian Federation veterinary and phytosanitary agreement negotiations and Council adopted a statement supporting the Commissioners efforts. On day two, the Commissioner returned from Moscow to update Council on his negotiations with the Russian Agriculture Minister the previous day, and to outline details of the agreement he reached in order to avert the threat of a ban.
Finally, the Czech Republic, asked the Commission to postpone application of the Council regulation, on the protection of animals during transport to 2009, due to problems in implementing the regulation by January 2007.
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Margaret Beckett): I have placed in the Library of the House copies of the 2005 report by Linda Costelloe Baker, The Independent Monitor for Entry Clearance Refusals Without the Right of Appeal. A copy is also available on the UKvisas website at: www.ukvisas.co.uk, together with their response to the monitors recommendations.
Mrs. Costelloe Bakers report is based on a sample of entry clearance refusals without full rights of appeal, made in 2005. It focuses on decision quality with recommendations on how UKvisas can further improve in this area. I welcome the recommendations, which UKvisas will implement.
I wish to express my thanks to Mrs. Costelloe Baker for her hard work in completing this, her first report as Independent Monitor for Entry Clearance Refusals Without the Right of Appeal. Her next report will cover the period January to September 2006 and will be published in spring 2007.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Andy Burnham): Today, the Department has issued joint guidelines with the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA). These guidelines will give guidance to companies on how to communicate and manage potential shortages of a particular medicine and will mean better and more effective working between the Government and industry in this area.
supply and demand imbalance;
raw material problems; and
When there is a shortage of a particular medicine, this new guidance will encourage companies to give early notice to the Department in cases that patient care will be adversely affected. This will enable a contingency plan to be formed and will give time for alternative suppliers or medicines to be found when possible or for options to be found for managing the shortage. This will help reduce the effect of any shortage on the National Health Service and patient care.
These guidelines follow the successful guidelines between Government and the ABPI on the discontinuation of
medicines. Those guidelines have meant that on several occasions, the effect of discontinuations on patients has been minimised.
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. David Hanson): I have deposited copies of the annual report and financial statements of Ilex URC Ltd. for the year ended 31 March 2006 incorporating the auditors report in the Libraries of both Houses.
On 29 March 2006, I indicated that he would issue final guidance to prosecutors about the use of the common law conspiracy to defraud offence following the commencement of the Fraud Act.
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Dr. Stephen Ladyman): My answer to parliamentary question UIN 113076, 8 January 2007, Official Report, column 222-223W regarding unnamed section 29 unlicensed vehicles in Scotland, contained several inaccuracies.
Unnamed S29 cases created 50517
No of cases summonsed 2802
No of cases successful 1625
Unnamed S29 cases created 41812
No of cases summonsed 1991
No of cases successful 1121
Unnamed S29 cases created 33695
No of cases summonsed 708
No of cases successful 324
The ability of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to carry out successful enforcement activity against motorists who use their vehicles and do not pay road tax is constantly under review and strategies are revised to meet changing needs.
The requirement to submit S29 cases electronically to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for prosecution, and the problems encountered in establishing this link led to a decrease in the number of prosecutions and an increase in the pursuit of these offenders by wheel-clamping activity.