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The Government remain committed to offering all NHS acute and mental health trusts the opportunity to apply for foundation status as soon as practicable. Monitor is now authorising trusts on a monthly basis, and further waves of NHS foundation trusts are set to follow.

Home Department

National Identity Scheme (Cost Report)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Meg Hillier): The third Cost Report of the National Identity Scheme is being laid before Parliament today. It sets out an estimate of the public expenditure likely to be incurred on the Scheme over the next 10 years, in accordance with section 37 of the Identity Cards Act 2006. It reports on developments over the past six months, since the second Cost Report was published on 10 May 2007.

Complaints Audit Committee (Annual Report 2006-07)

The Minister for Borders and Immigration (Mr. Liam Byrne): I am pleased to announce the publication of the independent Complaints Audit Committee (CAC) annual report for the year 2006-07, and the Border and Immigration Agency's response. Copies of both reports are available in the House and on the Border and Immigration Agency's website.

This is the CAC's thirteenth report. Their role is to monitor the effectiveness of the Agency's procedures for handling complaints.

We welcome the report and its findings which reflect much of the analysis set out by the former Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Airdrie and Shotts (John Reid), in the summer of 2006. As part of the reforms instigated by BIA since July 2006 a new complaints procedure has been designed from scratch which the Complaints Audit Committee has been instrumental in shaping and which will go live in February 2008.


Local Transport Bill

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Ms Rosie Winterton): I am today publishing the Government's response to the consultation on the draft Local Transport Bill (which was introduced in the House of Lords yesterday and published today). This response explains how the Bill has been revised in the light of pre-legislative scrutiny and responses to the public consultation. I am also publishing a summary of the views expressed in the written responses, at consultation events and meetings, and during the course of a series of regional visits to hear people's views about the draft Bill.

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The core purpose of the Bill is to improve public transport and tackle congestion, and it forms a key part of the Government's strategy to empower local authorities to deliver local transport that meets the needs of their communities. In so doing, it will also support the Government's efforts to tackle climate change.

It creates new opportunities for local authorities to deliver bus services that are better suited to the needs of local passengers; to develop more coherent approaches to the planning and delivery of local transport; and, where they wish to do so, to develop local road pricing schemes in a way that best meets local needs whilst ensuring that schemes are consistent and interoperable. It also contains measures to allow for the establishment of a new statutory body to represent the interests of bus and coach passengers in England.

Copies of the Government's response to the consultation, and other related documents, have been placed in the Vote Office, the Libraries of both Houses and are also available on the Department's website.


Framework Powers in the Local Transport Bill

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Hain): I am pleased to inform the House that an explanatory memorandum explaining proposals for the use of framework powers in the Local Transport Bill is available today. Copies of which can be found in the Vote Office, Libraries of both Houses and at:

Work and Pensions

Work Options Pilot Project

The Minister for Pensions Reform (Mr. Mike O'Brien): The Government are launching the face-to-face guidance pilot project which was announced as part of a package of measures in The Welfare Reform Green Paper, "A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work" which was published in January 2006 and aimed at increasing the employment rates of people aged 50 and over. Further reference was made in the Pensions White Paper of May 2006 "Security in Retirement towards a New Pensions System" which re-emphasised the importance of providing information and communicating choices to individuals. The pilot project is being carried out to establish what information older people need and how they can access it in order to take an informed decision about work and retirement in later life. Existing services are not providing the information that older individuals tell us they need when considering options about working longer. The information will focus on the choices and opportunities available to older people to help them plan how and when to retire as well as making use of flexible working options to help them remain in work or work for longer. The expectation is that better information will support extended working lives. The pilots will be evaluated over the operating period to inform the development of good practice for Government and non-government organisations to use in the guidance
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that they offer older workers. Tenders were invited from a wide range of guidance and older people agencies and six contractors have been selected. The organisations that successfully tendered for the pilot are as follows:

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The contracts started in October 2007 and will be for an 18-month period concluding March 2009. The final report, publication and production of best practice guidance will be in 2009-10,

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