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Public Attitudes to Alternatives to Prosecution

The Solicitor-General (Mr. Mike O'Brien): Myright hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General has made the following written ministerial statement:

Trade and Industry

East Midlands Development Agency

The Minister for Industry and the Regions (Margaret Hodge): I have decided to appoint the new Board Members listed at Annexe A for a period of two years and eight months.

The appointments will begin on 2 April 2007 and will expire on 13 December 2009. These appointments were made in accordance with the code of practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

I attach biographical details of the new appointees at Annexe B.

Annexe A
New Appointments
Appointment will commence on 2 April 2007

East Midlands Development Agency (emda)

Haydn Biddle

Tricia Pedlar

Annexe B


Haydn Biddle

Currently Chief Executive of George Baternan & Son Ltd. a position held since 1994. The previous eight years were spent at Scottish & Newcastle Breweries PLC were he became Managing Director of Newcastle Breweries Ltd. Previous employment was with Proctor & Gamble Ltd. where he became Associate Advertising Manager.

He is currently Pro-Chancellor and Deputy Chair of the University of Northumbria, Deputy Chair of Lincolnshire and Rutland Learning and Skills Council, Chair of Princes Trust, Lincolnshire. Also holds Non-Executive Directorships with J.D. Wetherspoon, Bullman Pub Company Ltd, Boston, Investors in Lincoln, The Newcastle Initiative, Newcastle Enterprise Trust and St. Mary’s Training and Enterprise Centre, Newcastle.

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Tricia Pedlar

Founded and is Managing Director of Strategic Spur Ltd., Marketing Consultancy in 2004. Previous ten years worked for Boots PLC where she became Head of Global Market Research for Boots Healthcare International. Previous to this spent seven years with Smith & Nephew Consumer Products as Group National Account manager.

Is currently an East Midlands Business Champion, an active member of Women in Rural Enterprise (WiRE), Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce and the County Land and Business Association.

Financial Reporting Council - Changes to Governance Arrangements

The Minister for Trade (Mr. Ian McCartney): Sir Christopher Hogg, the Chairman of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), is today publishing proposals for consultation on measures to improve the FRC’s internal governance. The Government welcomes this consultation

The FRC is the independent UK regulator and standard setter for accounting, auditing and the actuarial profession. The FRC’s remit was significantly expanded in 2004 as a result of the Government’s review of audit and accounting regulation, following the corporate scandals in the United States and elsewhere earlier in the decade. Its responsibilities were further expanded in 2006 to include actuarial standards and regulation, as recommended by the Morris Review.

Since his appointment as Chair in January 2006 Sir Christopher has been reviewing the FRC’s internal governance arrangements. While these arrangements have operated well, Sir Christopher has concluded there is now a strong case for changes to enhance the FRC’s transparency, efficiency and independence. The Government agree with Sir Christopher’s view and welcomes the consultation document he is publishing.

The changes Sir Christopher is proposing include merging the FRC Council, which at around 30 members is a large group, and its management board, to form a single governing body of directors. The new governing body would be larger than the existing six-strong board, to enhance its balance, composition and effectiveness. The majority of the governing body will be non-executive directors, including the Chair and Deputy Chair. In addition, the chairs of the FRC’s operating bodies would become directors for the first time.

Sir Christopher is also recommending changes to the process for appointing directors to support the new arrangements and ensure the new governing body reflects the range of skills and experience required. At present, the Secretary of State makes all appointments to the Board of Directors, with the exception of the Chief Executive who is appointed by the FRC. Under the new arrangements, the Secretary of State would appoint only the Chair and Deputy Chair of the FRC. The other directors would be appointed by a Nominations Committee chaired by the FRC Chair, through an open and transparent process, following the same principles as set out for public appointments by
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the Office of the Commissioner for public appointments. The committee, guided by a template of the range of skills and experience the board should include, will establish clear, objective criteria for individual appointments.

The Government believe the FRC has adapted well to its new responsibilities, and that it continues to receive strong support from companies, investors, the accountancy profession and other stakeholders. The Government are therefore confident the FRC under the new governance arrangements will continue to make an essential contribution to ensuring open, efficient and competitive markets and a strong enterprising corporate sector. Corporate reporting and governance in the UK are widely recognised domestically and internationally as being of a very high standard generally. The FRC’s integrated and market-led approach to regulation effectively underpins these standards.

Insolvency Service Performance Targets 2007-08

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Jim Fitzpatrick): I have today agreed to the publishing of the Insolvency Service’s Corporate Plan for the period 2007-10.

The Insolvency Service plans to deal with some 77,000 new insolvencies in the year to 31 March 2008, principally as a result of a further increase in personal bankruptcies.

Its planning assumption for the level of redundancy payments and other insolvency-related claims is 90,000 in the year.

Action will continue to be taken against bankrupts and company directors in respect of financial misconduct or dishonesty and I have asked the service to increase its enforcement output by 7 per cent. over that achieved in 2006-07. Companies Investigation Branch will continue to investigate the affairs of companies in the public interest and I have set targets in relation to the timeliness of dealing with complaints made and the handling of investigations that follow from those complaints.

The service’s “Enabling the Future” strategy, a major programme of IT led investment, will deliver savings over the period of the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review and I have therefore set the service a target to have reduced its case administration fees by 15 per cent. by 31 March 2011.

The Corporate Plan is available at: www.insolvency

I have also set the Insolvency Service the following targets for the year 2007-08:

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Published Targets 2007-08Target 2007-08Target 2006-07
Case Administration Targets

Reduce bankruptcy and company administration fees by 2010-11 from 1 April 2007 baseline by


New Target

Maintain satisfaction level of bankrupts and directors


New Target

Increase satisfaction level of insolvent creditors from 82.6% to


New Target


Increase the level of public confidence in the service’s enforcement regime from 62.8% to



To reduce the average time from insolvency order to the instigation of disqualification proceedings in appropriate cases

22 Months

New Target

Increase the quantity of enforcement outputs in 2007-08 from 2006-07 baseline by


New Target

Companies Investigation

Complete consideration of vetting complaints within 2 months


New Target

Complete internal Section 447 investigations within 6 months


New Target

Redundancy Payments

Maintain the cost of redundancy payment processing at the 2006-07 baseline

Maintain costs at 2006-07

New Target

Process Redundancy Payment claims for payment


3 Weeks



6 Weeks



Increase satisfaction level of redundant employees



from 74.2% to


In addition to these targets the service is required to meet centrally promulgated targets relating to replying to correspondence from hon. Members, making payments to suppliers and reducing sick absence levels. The service will also look to maintain Charter Mark and Investors in People accreditation following reassessments during 2007-08.

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Other TargetsTarget 2007-08Target 2006-07

Reply to correspondence from Members of Parliament within 10 days



Process payments to suppliers in 30 days



Reduce the level of sick absence

7.5 man days per employee

8.5 man days per employee

Work and Pensions

United Nations Convention on Disability Rights

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mrs. Anne McGuire): The United Kingdom played an active role in negotiating a new convention on disability rights, which was adopted by the United Nations on 13 December 2006. On the 14 December, the Prime Minister said that he hoped the UK would be among the first states to sign the convention, Official Report, written answers, column 1288W.

The convention opens for signature on 30 March and our signature tomorrow and that of other states will mark a significant step forward to ensuring that around 650 million disabled people worldwide will enjoy their human rights on an equal basis with every one else. It is the culmination of negotiations lasting more than four years in which disabled people have played a central role in the content of the convention.

Work is underway to check the UK’s legislation, policies and practices against the convention’s obligations. Before ratification, the convention will be laid as a command paper before both Houses of Parliament, together with an explanatory memorandum. It will also be sent to the Joint Committee on Human Rights for them to consider. Either, or both Houses, might decide to hold a debate.

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