5 July 2007 : Column 49WS

5 July 2007 : Column 49WS

Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 5 July 2007

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Competitiveness Council

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Malcolm Wicks): The following statement provides information on the Competitiveness Council in Luxembourg on 25 June at which I represented the UK. Annette Schavan, German Federal Education and Research Minister, chaired the Council.

The Council held an exchange of views and reached agreement on a general approach on the European Institute of Technology (EIT). The Council agreed that the number of Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) should be set at two or three to allow for flexibility and that the possibility of establishing KICs “inter alia” in renewable energy and climate change should be included in the preamble to the draft regulation establishing the EIT. On the budget, the Council agreed a sum of €308.7 million for a six-year period beginning on 1 January 2008. The UK expressed its concerns over this figure.

Council conclusions were adopted on a charter for the management of intellectual property rights and on the CREST report on co-ordination of the structural funds and the framework programme to support research and development.

Ministers then had a short exchange of views on the European Research Area (ERA) Green Paper following up on discussions at the Wuerzburg Ministerial informal and the May Competitiveness Council, focusing on strengthening research institutions, knowledge sharing and international co-operation. The Council agreed that more effective knowledge transfer between universities, business and public research institutions was at the heart of improving Europe’s capacity for innovation and some argued that any Commission proposals following the Green Paper would need to be informed by effective evaluation of sixth framework programme for research.

Under AOB the Commission gave four presentations on the recently or soon to be adopted legislation to set up the Clean Sky and European Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council (ENIAC) Joint Techonlogy Initiatives (JTIs) and the Ambient Assisted Living and EUROSTARS article 169 initiatives, stressing the need to get rapid agreement on the JTIs to maintain industry interest.

The presidency gave a presentation on the Euro-Med Education and Research Ministers Conference, and an update on the proposal for a directive on the marketing of certain measuring devices containing mercury.

Also under AOB the Portuguese delegation set out their plans for their upcoming presidency.

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Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Ivan Lewis): The annual report for 2006-07 has been laid before Parliament today and copies have been placed in the Library. The report covers research and development work carried out by or on behalf of any Government Department in relation to equipment that might increase the range of activities and independence or well being of disabled people.

The current report places such research in the context of the national service framework for long-term conditions and the White Paper on Adult Social Care and outlines the role of assistive technology in making independent living easier for older people and people with disabilities. The report describes the wide range of Government funded projects supporting the development, introduction and evaluation of assistive technology.

Northern Ireland

Youth Justice Agency of Northern Ireland

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Paul Goggins): I have placed copies of the Youth Justice Agency's Annual Report and Accounts for 2006-07 in the Libraries of both Houses.

This is the Agency's fourth annual report since its inception on 1 April 2003. It achieved nine of its 10 key performance targets and 19 of its 23 development objectives.


Boundary Commission for Scotland

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Des Browne): I have received notice from the Boundary Commission for Scotland that it intends, in pursuance of the Scotland Act 1998, as amended by the Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Act 2004, to commence a general review of the constituency boundaries of the Scottish Parliament. The review will cover the boundaries of all constituencies— other than the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands—and the eight regions. The Commission is required to submit its report to me not later than 30 June 2010.

I am also pleased to announce that Mr Kenneth McDonald has recently been appointed as a Commissioner of the Boundary Commission for Scotland. His appointment will run until June 2011.

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