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The Minister of State, Department of Health (Dawn Primarolo): My right hon. Friend the former Minister of State (Andy Burnham) announced the outcome of a Departmental review of the progress made in reforming market entry arrangements for community pharmacies in England, 11 January 2007, Official Report, col.19ws. This report found that whilst still early days, those reforms had had a modest albeit uneven impact and identified a number of concerns.
To address these, my right hon. Friend therefore announced a review of National Health Services pharmaceutical contractual arrangements. This would meet the commitment in paragraph 4.47 of Our Health, Our Care, Our Say to develop pharmaceutical contractual arrangements in line with the wider ambitions of that White Paper. He appointed Anne Galbraith, former Chair of the Prescription Pricing Authority, to lead the review.
Anne presented her report to Ministers in the spring. We have been considering and continue to consider Anne's findings and conclusions carefully. The All Party Pharmacy Group also recently completed its own inquiry into pharmacy services, published on 26 June at http://www.appg.org.uk/inquiry.htm.
I believe it is important that we reflect further on these reports in the context of wider developments that are taking place in the NHS, and in particular the wide-ranging review which my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson) announced to the House on 4 July 2007, Official Report, col 962.
We have therefore decided to defer responding formally to Anne Galbraiths review until later this autumn. We will come forward with a White Paper, which will set out our future proposals for developing pharmacy services and any legislative reform necessary. We remain committed to pharmacy, its place in the NHS and its role in delivering quality services to patients and consumers.
In advance of this, we are launching today a Departmental consultation on proposals to transfer to primary care trusts allocations residual money still held centrally at the Department to support NHS pharmaceutical services.
This money, known as the Global Sum, covers a range of fees and allowances which are payable to community pharmacies under the national contractual framework, for the provision of dispensing and other essential pharmaceutical services. Central funding also similarly pays appliance contractors, who supply patients with items such as stoma and incontinence care aids.
This proposal, subject to Parliamentary approval, would not come into force earlier than April 2009. It would bring this funding stream into line with other funding, which already pays pharmaceutical contractors for the costs of the drugs and appliances that they dispense, and align funding systems with those of other primary care professionals such as general practitioners and dentists.
Although this is a small change to the legislation, it is important that the NHS and other organisations are given the opportunity to consider it in full prior to our introducing the necessary legislation.
The consultation document has been placed in the Library and copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office. It is also available on the Department's website at http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Consultations/Liveconsultations/index.htm.
Consultation will end on 16 October 2007. We look forward to hearing the results. Subject to the outcome of this consultation, we expect to include these proposals in the forthcoming Health and Social Care Bill.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Meg Hillier): Further to the written ministerial statement made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) on 16 February 2006, on the subject of the National DNA Database, I am pleased to announce that we are establishing an Ethics Group to provide Ministers with independent ethical advice on the operation and practice of the National DNA Database (NDNAD).
The Ethics Group will be chaired by Professor Peter Hutton, Professor of Anaesthesia at the University of Birmingham. Its membership will be as follows:
Mrs Wendy Coates
Ms Madeleine Colvin
Mr Michael Menlowe
Dr Andrea Pearson
Dr Clive Richards
Dr Sarmeer Sarkar
Ms Sarah Thewlis
Dr Suzy Walton
The Ethics Group is being established as an Advisory Non-Departmental Public Body. Its role in relation to the NDNAD will include:
Reviewing the appropriateness of policy and practice;
Ensuring the maintenance of high ethical standards in decision making;
Ensuring that the public interest is properly served in relation to the way in which DNA samples and profiles are provided and stored.
The Ethics Group will also provide advice on:
Research applications that involve access to NDNAD samples or data;
Operational services provided by suppliers that rely upon access to NDNAD samples or data;
Matters referred to it by Ministers; by the NDNAD Strategy Board or on its own initiative.
The Ethics Group will submit a formal report by the end of April each year and this will be published by the Home Office.
I am arranging for the Protocol which will govern the operation of the Ethics Group to be placed in the Library.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Meg Hillier): I am pleased to announce that copies of the Annual Report and Accounts for the Criminal Records Bureau 2006-07 have been placed in the Library of the House today. Arrangements are now in hand for their publication.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Meg Hillier): The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) annual report and accounts 2006-07 has been laid before Parliament today. Copies have been placed in the House Library and are available on the IPS website.
The Minister of State, Home Department (Mr. Liam Byrne): Following the disturbances at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre last November and Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre in March this year, Mr. Robert Whalley CB was asked to carry out an inquiry into the circumstances leading to both events. I can announce that the inquiry is now complete and that the resulting report has been published today.
I am grateful to Mr. Whalley and his team for carrying out the inquiry and can confirm that the report has been submitted to Lin Homer, the Chief
Executive of the Border and Immigration Agency. I have put a copy of the report in the House Library together with a copy of the agencys action plan responding to recommendations made by the report for both Harmondsworth and Campsfield House.
I have accepted Mr. Whalleys recommendations in full. Action plans have been prepared and combined with an ambitions strategy for increasing deportations of foreign nationals who are in the UK illegally. I have commenced this action plan yesterday by breaking the ground on the new Brook House Immigration Removal Centre at Gatwick. Alongside this I can announce I have approved plans to strengthen and expand Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre. We will incorporate lessons learnt from Harmondsworth and Campsfield in the new designs. The Brook House development, along with our plans to redevelop the Harmondsworth site, will boost projected detention space by 23 per cent.
The removal of failed asylum seekers was at its highest level in 2006. The increased capacity of the new wings at Harmondsworth and the new Brook House will provide a major contribution to our plans for doubling resources for immigration policy.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith): In accordance with section 14 (3) and 14 (5) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, Lord Carlile of Berriew QC prepared a report on the operation of the Act in 2006, which the Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism and Police laid before the House on 19 February 2007.
I am grateful to Lord Carlile for his detailed report and I have given close consideration to his recommendations. Following consultation within my department and with other relevant agencies, I am pleased to place my response to Lord Carliles recommendations in the House Library today.
The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): I am today announcing the outcome of the recent consultation on Civil Court Fees. The consultation paper was published on 2 April and the consultation closed on 25 June. Some 77 responses were received from the judiciary, legal professions and other stakeholder bodies.
After careful consideration of these, I have, with some adjustments, decided to proceed with the changes proposed. Three statutory instruments containing the new civil, family and non-contentious probate court fees will be laid before the House tomorrow and will take effect on 1 October.
A further statutory instrument containing the new fees for magistrates courts is still being drafted and will be laid during recess. However, this should not affect the implementation date. A report analysing the responses to consultation will be published on 1 October.
The current system of exemptions and remissions has been replaced with a new system of concessions that will apply to all the fees orders. The scheme will be based on two distinct tests.
The first test will determine whether the applicant is automatically entitled to a full remission of the court fee. This will apply if the applicant is currently receiving a prescribed means-tested benefit or, failing that, can demonstrate that their gross household income is below a threshold that probably entitles them to such a benefit.
The second, more detailed test will consider both gross income and fixed out-goings to assess the applicants net or disposable income. The applicant may then be required to pay a contribution towards the fee based on a fraction of their disposable income. This system is a simplified version of the means test for legal aid.
In light of the responses received, we have reconsidered the original proposals and have adjusted some of the fees accordingly, putting together a package of solutions that positively and affordably addresses the majority of concerns, those are:
A majority agreed that the new concession should have a residual discretion to grant remission in exceptional circumstances not covered by the means test. A clause has been added to allow this. Full training will be given to staff to understand what can and can not be considered exceptional to maximise consistency.
Vexatious litigants who would normally be exempt from paying court fees due to financial hardship will be required to pay the full fee of an application for permission to bring a case.
Some of the proposals for downstream civil fees have been adjusted to better reflect the cost of the stages concerned, for example the fee for allocation questionnaires and listing questionnaires has changed. This has created scope to make larger reductions to some of the higher issue fees than originally proposed, meeting the criticism that these were too low.
In the magistrates courts, a fee of £400 was proposed for appeals against the decisions of public authorities, mainly licensing decisions. Some respondents objected that this proposal was likely to deter those individuals appealing to the granting of liquor licenses in their neighbourhood. As a consequence, the definition has been amended so that it only applies to an appeal against a decision by a local authority to refuse a licence. The general fees which apply to miscellaneous magistrates civil proceedings will apply to an appeal against the granting of a licence.
Many consultees disagreed with the scale of proposed increases to fees for ancillary matters such as oaths, copying and searches. As a consequence, a number of detailed adjustments have been made.
The proposal to pilot daily hearing fees in the specialist commercial jurisdictions in 2008 was met with opposition from respondents representing the views of legal practitioners and the judiciary of those courts. We therefore propose to review the scope proposed, to then be the subject of a target consultation. As a result, any introduction of a scheme is unlikely to take place before 2009.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Mr. Michael Wills): On Friday 10 August 2007, Land Registry will launch a formal consultation exercise to seek views on proposals to create electronic legal charges (a form of mortgage) and other services that it proposes to make available on the Land Registry Network during 2008.
Proposed new Land Registration rules would, among other things, prescribe an electronic charge as the first kind of electronic disposition of registered land in England and Wales. Once an electronic legal charge has been created, a customer will be able to apply, using the Land Registry Network, for it to be registered.
It is proposed that the Land Registry Network will also be used to provide an enlarged and enhanced electronic lodgement service in respect of applications for certain entries in the register and an enhanced Chain Matrix, which is an information tool that allows conveyancers and others to view the status of linked conveyancing transactions.
Subject to the outcome of the proposals and the advice and assistance of the Rule Committee, it is anticipated that the new rules would come into force during 2008.
The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): With the concurrence of the Lord Chief Justice I will today publish the first Annual Report for the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC).
I welcome the publication of this report, which provides details of the OJC's first year of operation and the complaints which it has dealt with. The OJC undertakes a key role in supporting the Lord Chief Justice and myself in our joint responsibility for the system of judicial complaints and discipline.
The publication of this report marks the first occasion on which comprehensive details of complaints received about Judicial Office Holders have been made available to the public in this way.
I believe that the report reflects the significant work undertaken by the staff of the OJC under the leadership of the Head of the OJC, Dale Simon, during its first year of operation.
I am sure that the Office will build on this solid foundation in the coming years.
Copies of the Report are available in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. Copies of the Report are also available on the Internet at http://www.judicialcomplaints.gov.uk/publications/publications.htm.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Gordon Brown): I am grateful to the Intelligence and Security Committee for their report on Rendition (Cm7171). Following consultation with the Committee over matters that could not be published without prejudicing the work of the intelligence and security agencies, I have today laid the report before the House.
I have also laid before the House today the Governments response to this report (Cm7172).
Copies of the report and the response have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
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