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21 Jan 2008 : Column 41WS

21 Jan 2008 : Column 41WS

Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 21 January 2008

Treasury

ECOFIN

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Alistair Darling): The Economic and Financial Affairs Council will be held in Brussels on 22 January 2008. The items on the agenda are as follows:

Presidency Work Programme

Slovenia took up the Presidency of the European Council on 1 January 2008 and will present its proposed work programme for the Economic and Financial Affairs Council. This discussion will be a televised public debate, in line with transparency arrangements agreed at the European Council in June 2006.

Introduction of the Euro in Cyprus and Malta

Ministers will exchange views on the introduction of the euro in Cyprus and Malta on 1 January 2008.

Preparation of the European Council (13-14 March 2008)

i) The next three-year cycle: Strategic report, Broad Economic Policy Guidelines 2008-10, Country-Specific Integrated Recommendations, and the Community Lisbon Programme.

Ministers will hold an orientation debate on a range of documents related to the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs, the first of which will be the Commission’s recently published “strategic report” analysing the last three years of the strategy. The other documents focus on recommendations for the next three-year cycle, including proposals for Broad Economic Policy Guidelines, Country-Specific Recommendations and the Community Lisbon Programme. This discussion will inform the further work of the Economic Policy Committee (EPC) and Economic and Finance Committee (EFC) on these documents. March ECOFIN will then prepare a report on these documents for the spring European Council.

ii) Single Market Review

ECOFIN will agree conclusions on the Single Market Review, which will be transmitted to the European Council in March. The Single Market Review was published by the European Commission on 20 November, and is largely in line with UK thinking on the need for a market-based, flexible, and outward facing single market policy.

iii) Contribution to the Spring European Council Conclusions: Key Issues Paper

Ministers will hold an orientation debate on the broad themes of a Key Issues Paper on economic reform issues which will form ECOFIN’s contribution to the spring European Council on these issues. This meeting will inform the drafting of the paper, which will continue through the Economic Policy Committee (EPC) and Economic and Finance Committee (EFC). Ministers will adopt a final version of this paper at the February ECOFIN.


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Single Euro Payments Area

Ministers will be invited to agree a set of conclusions on the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), an initiative led by the EU banking industry to develop pan-European payment schemes.

Health

Correction to Written Answer

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Ivan Lewis): I regret that the answer given to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) on 17 December, Official Report, column 1196W, about the number of deaths in custody at Broadmoor hospital was incorrect.

The correct information is as follows.

The information is not held centrally. However, Broadmoor hospital has supplied the following data in the attached table:

Deaths in Broadmoor since 1997 from West London Mental Health NHSTrust.
YearNumber of suicides (suspected or with inquest verdict)Other deaths (natural causes)Total deaths

1997

1

5

6

1998

2

1

3

1999

6

6

12

2000

1

3

4

2001

0

2

2

2002

2

4

6

2003

0

1

1

2004

0

(1)4

4

2005

3

2

3

2006

0

3

3

2007 (to 30/1 1/07)

3

2

5

(1)This includes one homicide.

Innovation, Universities and Skills

Physics Review

The Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Mr. John Denham): Today I am publishing the “Terms of Reference for the Review of Physics”. I asked Research Councils UK (RCUK) to commission as part of the science budget allocations announced on 11 December. I have placed copies in the House Library.

The Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004-14 sets out the Government’s commitment to nurturing key disciplines. The Research Councils, Funding Councils, and National Academies have made significant progress. It is important that all key disciplines remain strong and vibrant. Research priorities will change over time, and in line with the Haldane principle it is for Research Councils to set these, but it is important that Government are confident that the combined decisions of the Research
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Councils properly underpin the health of key disciplines. This is important both for the future of research and, more widely, to ensure a flow of talented individuals into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects at University.

As a next step, I asked Ian Diamond, as chair of RCUK, to organise a series of reviews on the health of key research disciplines in the UK. I announced that the first of these reviews would be on physics, and would be led by Professor Bill Wakeham, Vice-Chancellor, the University of Southampton.

I am pleased to announce that RCUK has now agreed terms of reference for the review. These are:

RCUK will, as part of its continuing oversight of health of disciplines, commission a cross-Council review of actions that might be taken to ensure the continued health of physics research and postgraduate training in the UK, as the first in a series of such reviews.

The review will:

The review will make recommendations that will inform the medium term funding of physics across the science base. It will report to RCUK during 2008. RCUK will then submit specific recommendations to the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills. The names of the other members of the review will be announced shortly.


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Justice

Administration and Enforcement Restriction Orders

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): In response to an undertaking given to the Commons Committee considering the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act (TCEA) 2007, on 16 January I published the consultation paper “Administration and Enforcement Restriction Orders; Setting the Parameters”.

This is a formal consultation exercise undertaken by Her Majesty’s Courts Service to seek views on the secondary legislation required to establish the constraints and limits that will set out the parameters of the Administration and Enforcement Restriction Order schemes introduced in the TCEA 2007.

The Administration Order scheme is reformed and the Enforcement Restriction Order introduced by the Act. Both are part of a package of measures designed to improve and extend the range of options available to assist the over-indebted.

The consultation document includes proposals covering debts that could be excluded from the schemes, the definition of debts that may be exempt from restrictions on legal action and the proposed total debt limit on Administration Orders.

The consultation document also includes proposals covering the minimum amount of surplus income (the difference between income from all sources and allowed justifiable expenditure) and the amount of money debtors should be able to pay before they are permitted to enter the Administration Order scheme. It also seeks views on how often debtors should update information on financial circumstances as well as the amount of notice that should be given before assets above a fixed value are disposed of.

Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and are also available on the internet at http://www.justice.gov.uk/docs/cp0108.pdf

I will make a further statement regarding the response shortly after the consultation period ends.


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