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The Minister of State, Home Department (Mr. Tony McNulty): Taser has been available to all Authorised Firearms Officers since September 2004 as a less lethal alternative for use in situations where a firearms authority has been granted in accordance with criteria laid down in the Association of Chief Police Officers Manual of Guidance on Police Use of Firearms.
I am giving my approval from 20 July 2007 for Chief Officers throughout England and Wales to deploy Taser for use by Authorised Firearms Officers in operations or incidents where the criteria for the authorisation to issue firearms does not apply, but where officers are facing violence or threats of violence of such severity that they would need to use force to protect the public, themselves and/or the subject(s) of their action.
I am also approving a 12 month trial of the deployment of Taser by specially trained units who are not firearms officers in similarly violent circumstances requiring conflict management. The trial, commencing on 1 September 2007, will be undertaken in the following 10 forces: Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Gwent, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, Metropolitan Police Service, Northamptonshire, Northumbria, North Wales and West Yorkshire.
ACPO has produced new policy and operational guidance documents for both the extension and the trial. The Defence Scientific Advisory Council (DSAC) Sub Committee on the Medical Implications of Less Lethal Weapons (DOMILL) was invited to provide a fourth statement on the medical implications of the use of Taser taking into account the new ACPO policy and guidance. The DOMILL statement confirms that the risk of death or serious injury from Taser remains low.
All Taser deployments will continue to be monitored and a detailed report of every deployment will be produced. These reports will be collated by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch and summarised on a three-monthly basis for assessment by DOMILL.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): I have today laid before Parliament the Court of Protection Fees Order 2007 and the Public Guardian (Fees, etc) Regulations 2007.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 establishes a new specialist court, the Court of Protection, with a jurisdiction to deal with decision making for people who lack mental capacity to make those decisions themselves. The Act also establishes a new statutory office holder, the Public Guardian, with a range of statutory functions under the Act.
The Court of Protection Fees Order 2007 sets out the fees to be charged for matters coming to the new court. The Public Guardian (Fees, etc) Regulations
2007 set out the fees to be charged for the services provided by the Public Guardian. The Regulations also make a minor amendment to one of the forms included in the Lasting Powers of Attorney, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Public Guardian Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/1253).
The Department conducted a public consultation on the fees contained in these statutory instruments between 7 September and 29 November 2007. Some 65 responses were received from a range of parties including users of the current Public Guardianship Office's services, charities, voluntary and representative groups, legal professionals, public bodies and the public. The response to this consultation is available via the Department's website at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/cp2306.htm.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jim Fitzpatrick): The Department for Transport is today issuing an interim report on the Ports Policy Review. This Review was launched last summer by my predecessor my hon. Friend the Member for South Thanet (Dr Ladyman), with the publication of a discussion document, Ports Policy Your Views Invited. A summary of the responses to this consultation are available to view on the Department for Transport's website www.dft.gsi.gov.uk.
Also published alongside the discussion document were reports by the Department's consultants, MDS Transmodal, on freight demand forecasts for ports, and on container transhipment. The consultants have updated some aspects of these reports and their further report will also be made available on the Department's website.
Sir Rod Eddington's report, Transport's role in sustaining the UK's productivityand competitiveness, was published in December. We are studying Sir Rod's recommendations and will respond to them later in the year. Several of these bear closely on ports policy and especially on the need to co-ordinate it fully with policy on each of the surface transport modes connecting with ports.
Also relevant to ports policy are the consultations, one recently closed and the other still in progress, on the Government's Marine Bill White Paper, and on the White Paper Planning for a Sustainable Future.
We are, however, already in a position to set out conclusions on important aspects of the overall policy framework for the ports sector. The Interim Report issued today recognises that commercial ports are best placed to make decisions about where and when to invest in the port sector, and that we do not propose any substantive change to the regulatory and operating framework for ports.
But it is the Government's responsibility to create the conditions in which investment is encouraged, and yet sustainability is ensured. This report sets out policies to build on the ports industry's success, including by:
commissioning demand forecasts every five years to aid assessment of national need;
recommending the use of Master Plans by major ports to improve planning;
setting out broad guidelines on the safeguarding of port land;
the pursuit of further trust port modernisation; and
setting out our plans to enhance the port safety regime.
In parallel with the Interim Report, the Government are also making their formal Response to the Transport Committee's report of its inquiry into The Ports Industry in England and Wales (HC61-1). I am grateful to the Committee for having expedited its inquiry so as to contribute to the Review. We have accepted a number of the Committee's recommendations, and even in those areas where we have not found ourselves able to do so, the evidence-gathering process has very usefully complemented the Department's own consultation
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Tom Harris): The Welsh Assembly Government and the Department for Transport have published the Regional Planning Assessment for the railway in Wales (WRPA), the final document in the series of RPAs covering England and Wales.
Copies of the document have been placed in the Library of the House and can also be downloaded from the Departments website at www.dft.gov.uk
The Wales RPA covers the whole of Wales and an area to the east of the border, including the Marches line which has an important role in north / south rail traffic for Wales. Key rail links into England are also included.
RPAs provide the link between regional spatial planning (including preparation of regional transport strategies) and planning for the railway by both Government and the rail industry, and are designed to inform the development of the Governments strategy for the railway. They look at the challenges and options for development of the railway over the next 20 years, in the wider context of forecast change in population, the economy and travel behaviour.
An RPA does not commit the Government to specific proposals. Instead it sets out the Governments current thinking on how the railway might best be developed to allow wider planning objectives for a region or country to be met, and identifies the priorities for further development work.
The Secretary of State for Transport is responsible for specifying the infrastructure outputs which central Government want the railway to deliver in England and Wales, and the funding available, over a five-year period. As co-signatory to the Wales and Border franchise agreement with the Secretary of State, the Welsh Assembly Government are responsible for the financial and performance management of passenger services covered by the agreement and any enhancements to it. The Welsh Assembly Government are also working in partnership with Network Rail to fund enhancements to the railway infrastructure in Wales.