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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 26 March 2007


Issuer Liability: Davies Review

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ed Balls): My written statement of 26 January 2007 announced the terms of reference for the independent review of issuer liability that I invited Professor Paul Davies QC, Cassel Professor of Commercial Law at the London School of Economics to carry out.

His discussion paper "Liability for Misstatements to the Market" is being published today. This sets out his analysis of the problem and invites comments on the issues arising. Copies of the paper are available in the House Library and can be downloaded from the HM Treasury website at www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/davies.



The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gordon Brown): The Economic and Financial Affairs Council will be held on 27 March in Brussels. The items on the agenda are as follows:

Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact

Stability and Convergence Programmes

Ministers will be invited to adopt Council Opinions on the Stability Programmes of Belgium and Spain, and on the Convergence Programmes of Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania. The UK supports a prudent interpretation of the SGP that takes account of country-specific factors including debt sustainability, the economic cycle and public investment.

General Budget of the European Union

Council Priorities for the 2008 Budget

Ministers will be invited to adopt Conclusions agreeing the Council's Budget Guidelines for the 2008 EC Budget. These guidelines are a set of broad principles that are designed to inform the subsequent and more detailed discussions on the level of appropriations required for the different areas of the Budget. These guidelines reflect the UK's desire to see a greater emphasis on the principles of budgetary discipline and sound financial management in the establishment of the 2008 EC Budget. Through these principles, the Council has underlined the importance it attaches to compliance with the financial framework and the strict respect of the annual limits therein.

Progress Report on the Commission Action Plan towards an Integrated Internal Control Framework

Ministers will hear a presentation from Commissioner Almunia updating them on the European Commission's progress in implementing its Action Plan towards an Integrated Internal Control Framework. The UK Government support the
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Commission's efforts to improve financial management of the EU Budget and announced to Parliament on 20 November 2006 that the UK would take a lead in showing how member states could improve their own management of EU funds.

Financial Services

Directive on Prudential Assessment of Acquisitions in the Financial Sector

Ministers will be asked to approve text amending the supervisory review process for cross-border mergers and acquisitions in the financial services sector, as adopted by the European Parliament on 13 March, and thus to confirm political agreement on the directive. The UK welcomes moves to bring greater transparency to the supervisory approvals process.

Directive on Payment Services in the Internal Market

Ministers will be asked to discuss the Presidency's proposal for harmonising the legal and technical provision of payment services across the EU, ahead of a vote in the European Parliament in April. The UK Government support a Directive that encourages competition and innovation in a single market for payment services.

Valuation Office Agency

The Paymaster General (Dawn Primarolo): I have today set the following key performance indicators for the Valuation Office Agency for 2007-08:

Customer satisfaction

To achieve overall customer satisfaction of 88 per cent.


Contain reductions in the 2005 rating lists to a maximum of 4.2 per cent. of the total compiled list rateable value, over the entire life of the lists

Enable prompt issue of correct bills by local authorities through clearance of rating reports within an average of 18 working days and council tax reports within an average of 14 days (England) and 16 days (Wales)

Ensure that 96 per cent. of new council tax bandings are right first time

Enable prompt issue of tax assessments by clearing all HMRC initial appraisal cases for inheritance tax within an average of eight days and for Capital Gains Tax within an average of 12 days


All staff to have the core skills and competencies for their role within six months of taking up post

Value for Money

To improve productivity by 3 per cent. in 2007-08(1)

To improve Value for Money on Inheritance Tax work by 5 per cent.

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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management

The Minister for Climate Change and the Environment (Ian Pearson): I am pleased to announce that the review by Government (the UK Government and the devolved administrations) of the long term management of the UK's solid low level radioactive waste (LLW), started on 18 March 2005, has been completed and that the revised policy statement is being published today. Copies of the policy statement have been placed in the Library of the House.

The LLW policy review process complements the ongoing work Government are carrying out on the policy for the management of higher activity radioactive wastes under our Managing Radioactive Waste Safely programme, following recommendations made by the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) in July 2006.

The public consultation on the review of solid LLW management policy was held between 28 February 2006 and 31 May 2006. Some 150 responses were received and a summary of the Government's response to them is also being placed in the Library of the House. As made clear when the consultation was announced, unlike the higher activity wastes, paths for the long term management and disposal of LLW already exist but the review was needed for the following principal reasons:

The revised policy puts providing public safety at the forefront of dealing with LLW, and recognises that much LLW has very low levels of radioactivity and can be disposed of in a variety of ways while posing a negligible risk to human health or the environment. The revised policy will:

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Further information, including the full policy statement, is available at www.defra.gov.uk/environment/radio activitv/waste/index.htm.

Northern Ireland

North/South Implementation Bodies and Tourism Ireland Limited

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Peter Hain): I have today placed in the Libraries of the House papers relating to decisions that have been taken during the period 28 October 2006 - 1 March 2007 which relate to the North/South Implementation Bodies and Tourism Ireland Ltd under the terms of the Exchange of Notes of 19 November 2002 (Cmnd 5708).

Foyle Carlingford and Irish Lights Sector

IP/FCILC 25 Foyle and Carlingford Fisheries Draft Order

IP/FCILC 26 Foyle Area and Carlingford Area (Licensing of Fishing Engines) Amendment) Regulations 2007

IP/FCILC 27 Extension of the Terms of Office of Board Members

Food Safety Sector

IP/FS 17 IP Business Plan for 2007 and Budgets 2007-08

IP/FS 19 Appointment of Chief Executive Officer

IP/FS 20 Code of Conduct for Members of Safefood, the Food Safety Promotion Board, the Staff of the Body and Members of the Advisory Board.

IP/FS 21 Extension of the Terms of Office of Board Members

Language Sector

IP/LAN 41 Staffing for Tha Boord O Ulstèr-Scotch (Ulster Scots Agency Cross Border Project)

IP/LAN 42 Staffing for Tha Boord O Ulstèr-Scotch (Ulster Scots Agency)

IP/LAN 43 Extension of the Terms of Office of Board Members

Special European Union Programmes Body

IP/SEU 23 - North/South Pension Committee - Interim Executive Resource

IP/SEU 24 - Special EU Programme Body Annual Report and Accounts for 2005

IP/SEU 25 - Special EU Programmes Body Staffing

Trade And Business Sector

IP/TB 18 Change to the Terms of Appointment of the Chief Executive of InterTradeIreland

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IP/TB 19 Extension of the Terms of Office of Board Members

Inland Waterways Sector

IP/WI 21 Business Plan and Budgets 2007

IP/WI 22 Two 99 Year Leases of River Shannon Frontage at Coothall, Co Roscommon to Mrs Maura Doherty

IP/WI 23 99 Year Lease on the Shannon Erne Waterway at Lanesborough, Co Roscommon to Fast Fit Doors Ltd

IP/WI 24 99 Year Lease on the Shannon Erne Waterway at Cullyleenan, Ballyconnell, Co Cavan to Cullyleenan Properties

IP/WI 25 99 Year Lease on the Shannon Erne Waterway at Kilcorby, Belturbet, Co Cavan to Kilcorby Chalets Ltd

IP/WI 26 Employee Code of Conduct

IP/WI 27 - Lease of Part of a Waterway to Dublin Docklands Development Authority to Facilitate the Construction of a Walkway Structure at Grand Canal Plaza.

IP/WI 28 - Lease of Part of a Waterway to Gerard Conefrey at Keshcarrigan, Co Leitrim to Facilitate the Construction of a Private 26 Berth Marina and Car Parking Area

Tourism Sector

IP/TOU 26 - Membership of Board of Tourism Ireland Limited

Prime Minister

European Summit (24-25 March)

The Prime Minister (Mr. Tony Blair): EU Heads of State and Government met in Berlin over the weekend 24-25 March to mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. The Berlin Declaration recalls the historic achievements of the last 50 years, and looks ahead to the challenges that we the countries of the European Union need to face together. Copies of the Declaration have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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