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Written Ministerial Statements

Wednesday 21 November 2007

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

EU Competitiveness Council (Brussels)

The Minister for Competitiveness (Mr. Stephen Timms): I will be attending the EU Competitiveness Council in Brussels on 22 November.

The main substantive item will be an “integrated approach to competitiveness” covering industry policy, e-skills, small and medium-sized enterprises, succeeding in the age of globalisation, and European competitiveness. This will compromise the presentation of communications from the Commission, adoption of Council conclusions, and will be followed by an exchange of views on all five items. The UK will argue strongly in favour of a presumption towards openness when developing the EU’s external policies.

Further agenda items for which BERR is responsible are:

Better regulation (progress report followed by an exchange of views). This will be an opportunity for Ministers to debate the issue of how to improve legislation coming from Europe in advance of a review by the European Commission early next year, which will look at better understanding the economic impact of regulation, better consultation and keeping red tape to a minimum.

Communication from the Commission on a

(adoption of Council conclusions). The UK will look to agree the text of conclusions, offering strong support for the Commission’s simplification programme for company law.

Communication from the Commission on

(progress report followed by an exchange of views). The Portuguese presidency has laid solid foundations for further work towards a European patent court and the UK welcomes their efforts, but, as their report recognises, further work needs to be done to ensure the creation of a high-quality, efficient and affordable jurisdiction that delivers clear benefits to innovative businesses in Europe.

Proposal to amend the timeshare directive (progress report followed by an exchange of views). The UK is pleased with progress to date and hopes to see further progress in resolving the remaining issues.

Communication from the Commission on “Agenda for sustainable and competitive European tourism” (presentation by the Commission followed by adoption of Council conclusions). The UK supports the Commission
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policy paper and conclusions, which recognise the importance of the development of tourism as a competitive economic activity, the need to balance this with environmental and social aims, and respond to the aims set out by the Lisbon agenda.

There will be nine further items taken under any other business:

Review of the Single Market (Information from the Commission)

Free movement of goods (Information from the presidency)

Classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (Information from the presidency)

Events during the Portuguese presidency (Information from the presidency)

The Internet of Things (Information from the presidency)

Product safety (Information from the Commission)

Services of general interest (Information from the Commission)

Trade defence instruments (Information from the Commission)

Legal protection of designs (Information from the presidency)


Winter Supplementary Estimates (2007-08)

The Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne): My written ministerial statement of 15 November 2007, Official Report, Vol. 467, c. 68-69WS, contained an error in the opening paragraph. The correct text is:

Subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate, the Ministry of Defence Departmental Expenditure Limits (DEL) will be increased by £2,033,379,000 from £33,561,172,000 to £35,594,551,000.


Patient Satisfaction (NHS Cleanliness)

The Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson): Patients rightly expect high standards of cleanliness and hygiene in all National Health Service settings.

Today, the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) is publishing information on the 2007 inspection results of the Patient Environment Action Teams. In 2000, we introduced Patient Environment Action Teams (PEAT), which, each year, assess every in-patient health care facility in England with more than 10 beds. The inspection looks at issues of hospital cleanliness, the quality of the environment, food and at issues of privacy and dignity.

Figures published today by the NPSA show that in 2007, 98 per cent. of hospitals were rated excellent, good or acceptable: up from 95 per cent. in 2006. This is against a more rigorous process in 2007 than for 2006 for the inspection process for PEAT.

The full data are available from the NPSA website http://www.npsa.nhs.uk/peat.

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As part of our drive to improve cleanliness further, my Department recently announced a deep clean of all our hospitals to supplement ongoing cleaning. My Department is making available further information on the funding to support the deep clean of the NHS at regional level. The following table outlines the indicative spending intentions for each SHA area. All trusts will have to submit detailed deep clean plans, including costs to their primary care trusts and strategic health authorities. Foundation trusts will also be invited to agree plans and funding for additional deep cleaning with local commissioners. Trusts are aiming to complete all deep cleans by 31 March 2008.

SHA2007/08 Expenditure intentions, £m

North East


North West


Yorkshire and Humber


East Midlands


West Midlands


East of England




South East Coast


South Central


South West



Home Department

Animal Procedures Committee (Annual Report)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Meg Hillier): In accordance with Section 20(5) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, I have placed the Committee’s annual report for 2006 in the Library today. Among other things the report includes:

the work carried out by the Committee’s sub-committees;

the advice offered by the Committee on a project licence application that was referred to the Committee for advice;

acceptance of overseas centres supplying non-human primates to UK laboratories: a report by the Primates sub-committee of the Animals Procedure Committee;

the completion and publication of our review of Schedule 1 to the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1985: Appropriate methods of humane killing;

the publication of an update for the housing and care of animals used in scientific procedures, an aide-mémoire for users and staff comparing proposed changes to European legislation to existing UK codes of practice;

the publication of a report of the Education and Training Sub-committee on modular training for the use of animals in scientific procedures;

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the report concludes with the Committee’s work plan for 2007.

Innovation, Universities and Skills

EU Competitiveness Council (Brussels)

The Minister for Science and Innovation (Ian Pearson): I am pleased to confirm the agenda items for which DIUS is responsible, at the forthcoming EU Competitiveness Council on 23 November in Brussels. The Council will be chaired by Mr. Gago, Portuguese Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education. I will be attending.

There are seven substantive agenda items:

political agreement on compromise text on a proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council establishing the European Institute of Technology (BIT), before the European Parliament Second Reading;

a possible general approach on Council Regulations establishing Joint Undertakings to implement Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs) for Innovative Medicines (IMI); Aeronautics and Air Transport (Clean Sky); Embedded Computing Systems (ARTEMIS) and Nanoelectronics (ENIAC), with the view to move to agreement on these regulations later in the year. The UK supports the objectives of these JTIs which we see as important for engaging UK businesses in European research and would like to see them launched by the end of this year;

a possible general approach on a proposal for a European Parliament and Council Decision on the Ambient Assisted Living initiative. The UK is supportive of the general aims of AAL and the Technology Strategy Board is intending to participate in the initiative;

possible adoption of Council on The Future of Science and Technology in Europe;

possible adoption of Council on Scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation. The UK supports the subject to securing satisfactory text on the issue of pricing;

possible adoption of a Council Resolution on modernising universities for Europe’s competitiveness in a global knowledge economy;

possible adoption of draft Council on the implementation of the nanosciences and nanotechnologies Action Plan for Europe. The UK supports the conclusions.

There will be two further items taken under Any Other Business:

(i) proposal for a European Parliament and Council Decision for a Joint National Research Programme (Article 169 of the Treaty Initiative) on Research Performing SMEs (EuroSTARS) (Information from the Presidency and the Commission on the state of play);

(ii) proposal for a Council Regulation setting up the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking. (Presentation by the Commission)

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