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4 Dec 2007 : Column 59WS

17.A study be undertaken into the utility of parachute escape on the Nimrod MR2.

This recommendation has not been taken forward. The Nimrod has no airborne escape system as it was not designed for the deployment of parachutes. It is highly likely that any attempt to abandon the aircraft from the front or rear exit would result in either being pulled into the engine or hitting the tail of the aircraft.

18.Nimrod STANEVAL(1) consider the lessons identified at annex P (Description of crew actions during the emergency) and their potential impact on crew emergency procedures.

This recommendation has been accepted

19.The port rear emergency oxygen bottle is relocated to a more central position, or another oxygen bottle is provided in this position.

The feasibility of the recommendation is being examined and a technical proposal on how this could be implemented has been requested,

20.The design of No. 1 fuel tank is reviewed to reduce the effect of asymmetric filling.

It is not currently intended to review the design of the Nol fuel tank as this problem has been resolved by only refuelling the No 1 tank to a level well below that which could initiate the safety valve.

21.The outlet pipes for fuselage fuel tank blow-off valves be modified to ensure that biown-off fuel cannot run down the exterior of the fuselage.

The feasibility of the recommendation is being examined and a technical proposal on how this could be implemented has been requested.

22.The connections of the No. 1 tank vent pipes be modified to reduce the risk of fuel leakage.

The feasibility of the recommendation is being examined and a technical proposal on how this could be implemented has been requested.

23.The drainage of the lower panel in the No 7 tank dry bay be improved to prevent any accumulation of fuel.

The feasibility of the recommendation is being examined and a technical proposal on how this could be implemented has been requested. In the meantime the likelihood of a hazard arising from fuel pooling in this area has been significantly reduced by suspending the use of the supplementary conditioning pack and cross-feed pipe system and introducing the enhanced inspection regime.

24.A crash-protected means of recording aircraft position and intercom voice is introduced to the Nimrod.

This recommendation is under consideration.

25.The Defence Aviation Safety Centre (DASC) should investigate the provision of details of type specific emergency equipment (ADR, etc) and key internal components (for example the ADR tape unit and housing) on their website to enable post-crash MOD Incident Officer (PCMIO) to provide guidance to search teams.

This recommendation has been accepted.

26.Instructions for PCMIO are revised to provide guidance when attending crash sites that are likely to become inaccessible.

This recommendation has been accepted.

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27.Instructions for PCMIO at crash sites which are likely to become inaccessible should include advice to make every effort to ensure the widest possible photographic coverage of the crash site, at the highest possible resolution. This should take priority over all other tasks for any photographic team.

This recommendation has been accepted.

28.DASC should increase their current stock of post-crash BOI kits.

This recommendation has not been accepted. We currently hold four post-crash BOI kits, if, in the unlikely circumstance that a fifth BOI post crash kit is required the RAF could borrow a kit from one of the other services.

29.Body bag fluid proof liners should be stored within the outer ruggedised bags in crash kits to ensure that they always arrive on scene together.

This recommendation has been accepted.

30.The Nimrod MOD Form 700 Sections 2 and 3 (F703/F704) should be copied and retained before the document is carried on the aircraft.

This recommendation has been accepted.

31.The use of non-approved mission system panel blanks be discontinued.

This recommendation has been accepted.

32.Consideration be given to reinstating the SOI (Wg Cdr) engineering post in Forward at RAF Kinloss to provide senior oversight of station engineering matters.

This recommendation has been accepted.

33.A review of engineering training is undertaken to identify those areas which, while relevant to Nimrod capability, are not encompassed within existing formal training courses.

This recommendation has been accepted.


Authorisations of NHS Foundation Trusts

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): The chairman of Monitor (the statutory name of which is the Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts) announced last week that, in accordance with section 35 of the National Health Service Act 2006, Monitor had decided to authorise the following NHS acute and mental health trusts as NHS foundation trusts from 1 December:

Monitor’s announcement brings the total number of NHS foundation trusts to 83. A copy of Monitor’s press notice has been placed in the Library.

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.

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Bus Passenger Representative Body Consultation

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Ms Rosie Winterton): I have today launched a public consultation on a proposed new bus passenger representative body. The public consultation, which will run until 17 March, identifies options for delivering a passenger champion. These options are to work with existing bus passenger bodies, to establish a new stand-alone statutory bus passenger champion body or to establish a multimodal public transport users’ committee including widening the functions of Passenger Focus (the rail passengers’ council).

Feedback from a previous consultation on the Government’s proposals for the draft Local Transport Bill and reform of the traffic commissioners was that a lack of a publicly recognised national body to represent passenger interests and hold the industry to account contributes to a failure to address poor bus services. We have listened to those who argue for this formal representation and believe that the time is now right to provide a more visible and influential voice for bus passengers.

Some of the options require legislation which is contained in the Local Transport Bill. This, if enacted, includes provisions which would enable the Secretary of State, in secondary legislation, either to set up a new public transport users’ committee or to confer additional functions relating to buses and coaches to the existing Rail Passengers Council (Passenger Focus). The other options would not require further legislation.

Copies of the consultation have been placed in the Library of both Houses and in the Vote Office.

Work and Pensions

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (5-6 December)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will be held on 5 December in Brussels. I will be representing the UK except for the items on the working time directive and the agency workers directive where the UK will be represented by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Health and consumer affairs issues are being taken on 6 December.

The presidency hopes to reach agreement on an amended proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/88/EC concerning certain aspects of the organisation of Working Time (9554/05 (formerly 12683/04). UK priorities remain a solution to the problems caused by the ECJ SiMAP and Jaeger judgments, and the retention of the individual right to opt out of the 48-hour maximum working week, without unnecessary restrictions. The UK is still analysing a new draft proposal from the
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presidency, but believe it is a step forward in that it no longer contains text that envisages the end of the opt-out. In addition previous text addressing the issues raised by the SiMAP and Jaeger judgments has not been changed in a way in which we would disagree.

The draft Directive of the European Parliament and the Council on working conditions for temporary workers (15098/02 (24066)) is also on the agenda. The UK has welcomed the restarting of the debate on this draft Directive. The UK continues to support the underlying principles of the draft Directive and wants a Directive that gives appropriate protections to agency workers without putting their jobs at risk. However, there remain outstanding issues for the UK (and other member states) that need to be addressed.

The presidency also hopes to get political agreement on a directive for improving the acquisition and preservation of supplementary pension rights which aims to improve the mobility of workers within the EU by reducing concerns over how pension rights are treated. When someone changes employment, the pension rights they have already built up should be protected to remove this barrier to labour mobility. The UK supports the current text, but there are serious outstanding issues for some other delegations.

The Council will have a policy debate on social services of general interest, where the commission has proposed a broad exchange of good practice. The UK view is that public services should be organised and regulated as closely as possible to the citizens and that the principle of subsidiarity must be strictly respected.

The Council will aim to agree a partial general approach on the latest instalment of an implementing regulation for social security co-ordination Regulation 883/04 and on corresponding content for annex XI to that Regulation. The UK is content.

The Council will seek to endorse the employment committee’s opinion on the European employment strategy in the context of the Lisbon strategy. This text is uncontroversial and the UK supports it.

There will be an endorsement of the joint EU Employment Committee (EMCO) and Social Protection Committee (SPC) opinion on the common principles of Flexicurity, a combination of flexibility and security in labour markets and incorporating modern social security systems and lifelong learning. The joint opinion of the EMCO and SPC makes minor proposals for changes to the common principles set out in the Commission communication dated 27 June 2007. The UK supports this text.

The Council will seek adoption of five sets of conclusions on Flexicurity; the European employment strategy; modernising social protection for greater social justice and economic cohesion; on the Commission communication taking forward the active inclusion of people furthest from the labour market, implementation of the Beijing platform for action, and the balanced roles of women and men for jobs, growth and social cohesion. The UK supports these texts.

The Council will also seek adoption of a resolution on the follow-up to the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for all. The UK supports the text.

Under Any Other Business, there will be reports from the presidency of recent presidency conferences, the draft Council conclusions on trafficking in human
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beings and the draft Council resolution on new skills for new jobs. There will also be reports by the Commission on the Commission’s communications on a new social vision for 21st century Europe and modernising labour law.

On 6 December, there will be a joint Council meeting with the justice and home affairs Council, at which there will be a policy debate on migration, employment and the Lisbon strategy. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) will represent the UK.

Communities and Local Government

Housing and Regeneration Bill Contingency Fund

The Minister for Housing (Yvette Cooper): I wish to inform Parliament that Communities and Local Government has obtained approval for an advance from the Contingencies Fund to allow the early recruitment and appointment of chief executives and chairs, with support arrangements, for the Homes and Communities
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Agency and the social housing regulator after completion of Second Reading of the Housing and Regeneration Bill in the House of Commons, and before Royal Assent.

The Homes and Communities Agency will bring together the current work and programmes of the Housing Corporation, English Partnerships and a significant part of Communities and Local Government's own housing programmes.

The social housing regulator will encompass the current regulatory functions of the Housing Corporation and implement the recommendations of the Cave review.

Bringing forward this expenditure through a Contingencies Fund advance will enable efficiency savings to be achieved earlier and will provide significant reductions in public spending.

Parliamentary approval will be sought in the 2008-09 main estimate for CLG for additional resources of £930,000 for detailed operational work to establish the new agency and regulator while maintaining business as usual so it can be up and running by April 2009. Pending that approval, and Royal Assent of the Housing and Regeneration Bill, urgent expenditure estimated at £930,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

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