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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 22 October 2007


Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Maria Eagle): The Sixth annual Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) reports are published today. The MAPPA bring together the police, probation and prison services in each of the 42 areas in England and Wales into what is known as the MAPPA “Responsible Authority”. Other agencies are under a duty to co-operate with the responsible authority, including social care, health, housing and education services.

The “Child Sex Offender Review”, published in June, identified a number of ways in which the administration and co-ordination of the arrangements could be improved. It is essential, if we are to be reassured that offenders are being managed properly, that those running MAPPA locally are able to monitor and report on the arrangements; and that accurate records of cases are kept and action plans followed up.

The Government have therefore committed £1.2 million to strengthen precisely these aspects of MAPPA. Complementing this commitment will be the development of national standards for MAPPA, establishing improved information sharing, robust performance management arrangements and the development of consistent, auditable MAPPA co-ordination processes. These standards will ensure that agencies are serviced with the best possible information on risk on which to make decisions. They will also provide an important benchmark against which to measure and then drive up performance.

In addition, we will be providing an extra £l million for the implementation of the Violent and Sex Offender Register (ViSOR) across the probation and prison services. For the first time, the three responsible authorities will be working on the same IT system enabling the sharing of risk assessments and risk management information on individual violent and sex offenders in a timely way to reduce re-offending.

The annual reports describe how the arrangements work locally and include key public protection achievements in each of the 42 police and probation Areas of England and Wales. They report on progress against local business plans, outline next year’s plans, and provide contact points for further information. They also provide statistical information on the number of offenders eligible for the MAPPA and how they are managed.

Copies of every area report are being placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

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ATOL Bonding

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jim Fitzpatrick): Between April and June 2007 the Government and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) consulted on options for the reform of Air Travel Organisers’ Licence (ATOL) bonding by package holiday companies. The aim was to reduce burdens on ATOL holders and also to replenish the Air Travel Trust Fund (ATTF) following the Civil Aviation Act 2006, allowing the Government’s loan guarantee to be phased out. As a result of the consultation, Government announced in August an ‘in principle’ decision to introduce a pooled scheme, based on a £1 per passenger ATOL Protection Contribution (APC) paid by the tour operator, to replace the current ATOL bonding arrangements from 1 April 2008. Confirmation of the decision was subject to CAA’s satisfactory progress on aspects of the scheme.

The Government are now content to confirm the decision. The Civil Aviation (Contributions to the Air Travel Trust Fund) Regulations 2007 have today been laid before Parliament which will allow the CAA to implement the APC from 1 April 2008.

There is no change in the comprehensive financial protection available to passengers. Those buying a package holiday will be entitled to a full refund if their travel organiser becomes insolvent before they travel, and assistance with returning home if they are already abroad.

Work and Pensions

Deregulatory Review Report (Government Response)

The Minister for Pensions Reform (Mr. Mike O'Brien): On 25 July I announced that Chris Lewin and Ed Sweeney, who had been appointed as external reviewers to the Deregulatory Review in December 2006, had published their report “Deregulatory Review of Private Pensions”. Their report made a number of recommendations for change. We are grateful to Chris and Ed for their thorough and thoughtful report. I am today placing copies of our response in the Libraries of both Houses.

While the Government are committed to reducing burdens on employers who provide pension schemes, they also recognise the need to strike a balance with the need to protect members’ benefits. We therefore agree with the reviewers’ recommendation that no changes should be made which would adversely affect current pensioners or past service rights that have already been built up.

The Government believe that proposals outlined in our response to the recommendations made by the reviewers strike the right balance between encouraging employer provision of pensions and protecting members’ benefits. They will reduce costs and will make it easier for scheme rules to be changed to mirror relaxations to specific requirements. Some employers have asked for
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‘Limited Price Indexation’ but our view is that it would not strike the right balance with the interest of members of schemes and we cannot support it.

We want to seek further views from stakeholders on these proposals before we introduce any changes, so there will be a short period of consultation on proposals to:

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The consultation period will end on 15 November.

We also accept that there is scope for more work on other issues and as part of a rolling programme of deregulation will explore the following areas:

We will repeal the complex legislative requirements which apply to “safeguarded rights” which arise following pension sharing on divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership.

The Government’s response will be available on the Department’s pension’s reform internet site later today.

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