Previous Section Index Home Page

Following the full implementation of the Safeguarding and Vulnerable Groups Act, decisions on whether to prevent unsuitable people from working with children and vulnerable adults will be taken by the Independent Safeguarding Authority, an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Home Office. Chaired by Sir Roger Singleton, the ISA will be responsible for making decisions under the new vetting and barring arrangements, and it was formally established in January 2008 to take forward the transitional and preparatory work in readiness for the new scheme. As part of the transition, from 31 March 2008, we will begin to transfer the administration of List 99 casework to the ISA,
17 Mar 2008 : Column 39WS
which will advise the Secretary of State on the barring decisions under the provisions of paragraph 1 of Schedule 8 to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act.

The new vetting and barring scheme will replace the current List 99, Protection of Children Act (PoCA) list, the disqualification orders handed down by the courts, and the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (PoVA) list with new lists barring individuals from working with children and vulnerable adults. Statutory instruments have been made which come into force on 7 April 2008, which govern the arrangements under which ISA must include, or consider including, in the new barred lists all those individuals who are barred under the current schemes.

A Home Office Minister will make a statement to the House in due course on the ISA’s work and progress towards the implementation of the new scheme.

School Admissions: Strengthening the System

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls): Last Tuesday I announced the next steps we are taking to strengthen the admissions system. This statement provides an update for the House, and sets out further steps we are taking to ensure the proper implementation of the School Admissions Code, so that no parent or child is disadvantaged by unfair admission arrangements.

Extending the Role of the Schools Adjudicator

As I announced last week we will be introducing an amendment to the Education and Skills Bill placing a duty on local authorities to report annually to the chief adjudicator on the legality, fairness and effectiveness of admission arrangements in their area. Following Royal Assent, the chief adjudicator will be able to draw upon these reports in his annual report to me.

The chief schools adjudicator, Dr Philip Hunter, has written to my Department to propose the following for this year:

I propose to accept his proposals, and have asked him to provide an interim update in July and a final report on 1 September. I have placed a copy of his letter and my reply to him in the Library of the House.

Objections and Adjudicator Report

I have also today published draft regulations for consultation that extend the period in which objections can be referred to the schools adjudicator on determined admission arrangements for entry in 2009. Extending the period from six to sixteen weeks will ensure that parents, local authorities, admissions authorities, admissions forums and religious authorities have sufficient time to check proposed admission arrangements, and can refer an objection up to 21 August each year for admissions in the following year.


17 Mar 2008 : Column 40WS

As I said in my statement last week we are currently verifying our recent findings with the local authorities and schools concerned and I will make another statement to Parliament when this process is complete.

Communities and Local Government

Fire and Rescue Service

The Minister for Local Government (John Healey): I would like to report to the House that this morning Sir Ken Knight, the Government’s chief fire and rescue adviser, published his report into the fire and rescue service (FRS) operational response to the widespread summer flooding of 2007.

Sir Ken’s report praises the FRS for its dedication and professionalism in dealing with severe challenges during the floods in protecting lives, infrastructure and property. I fully endorse those views.

The report examines a number of key issues including: FRS command and control, the national capability to respond to major floods, equipment and health and safety, training, effective use of flood risk information, the national co-ordination of FRS assets like high volume pumps, and the role of category 2 responders including utility companies in such emergencies.

The Government welcome this report. Its findings will contribute directly to Sir Michael Pitt’s “Lessons Learned” review final report which is due to be published in the summer.

I have placed copies of the report in the Libraries of the House.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Consular Fees Order 2008

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Meg Munn): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently undertaken a review of the fees charged for visa and consular services overseas. On 12 March 2008 Her Majesty in Council approved the Consular Fees Order 2008. This revokes and replaces the Consular Fees Order 2007 and two Consular Fees (Amendment) Orders. The Government are today announcing changes to the consular fees to be charged under this order with effect from 1 April 2008.

Passport fees, at home and overseas, remain at current levels. However the order enables fees for passport applications made both overseas and in the United Kingdom to be non-refundable in the event that the application is unsuccessful, whereas previously they were not.

The order includes a premium service legalisation fee of £67 for companies, solicitors and notaries, to be charged from a new office in central London. The standard legalisation service both offered by consular
17 Mar 2008 : Column 41WS
officers at posts overseas and by the London legalisation office (to move to Milton Keynes later in the year) will remain at £27.

Fees for receiving applications for entry clearance to the United Kingdom, for passing through the United Kingdom, direct airside transit visas and certificates of entitlement of abode, which were previously charged under the Consular Fees Order, are now charged under section 51 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 and, in respect of those fees that are set at levels that exceed the administrative cost of the application, in reliance on section 42 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc.) Act 2004. However fees for receiving applications for entry clearance to Commonwealth countries, British overseas territories and Crown Dependencies continue to be charged in the order. Fees for applications for entry clearance to the Crown Dependencies made from outside the UK have in most cases been increased by approximately 3 per cent. in line with inflation.

It is right that those who benefit from consular services should meet the cost of them, rather than the UK taxpayer. The new fees represent the full economic cost of what we do, and will ensure that British missions overseas continue to provide a high standard of service to consular customers.

The new fees are included in the attached table.

Table of Consular Fees
Part I
Legalisation
Fee £

1.

Attesting or legalising a signature or seal except where —

(a)

the signature or seal is on a certificate or survey of foreign passenger ships running to or from the United Kingdom, or

(b)

the signature or seal is on a document required for the deposit or withdrawal of money in or from any British Post Office or other Government Savings Bank, or

(c)

the signature or seal is in connection with stocks or bonds on the registers of the Post Office, with Savings Bank annuities or with annuities granted direct by the National Debt Commissioners —

(i)

Standard service

27.00

(ii)

Premium service

67.00



17 Mar 2008 : Column 42WS
Part II
Notarial and Related Matters
Fee £

2.

Preparing any certificate, declaration or document not listed elsewhere in this Schedule —

(a)

in standard form, for every copy

34.00

(b)

not in standard form, for every 100 words —

(i) in English

42.00

(ii) in any other language

67.00

3.

Preparing or signing, or both, a declaration of existence —

16.50

Except in connection with pay or pensions payable by a department of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, or the Government of any other Commonwealth country

4.

Administering an oath or attesting the signature on a declaration or affirmation except where —

50.00

(a)

the oath, declaration or affirmation is made under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995((a)) or in connection with the loss of a passport

(b)

fee 16, 17, 27, 28, 29, 32, 38, 44, or 45 is to be taken

5.

Supplying witnesses, for each witness

20.00

6.

Initialling alterations in any document not prepared by the consular officer or marking exhibits, for each initialling or marking

10.00

7.

Making or verifying (including certifying when necessary) a copy of a document —

(a)

in typescript, for each page

34.00

(b)

reproduced by electronic means outside the consular premises, for each page

34.00

(c)

reproduced by electronic means within the consular premises, for each page (with a minimum charge of £25)

5.00

8.

Uniting documents and sealing the fastening (except where fee 45 is applicable)

20.00

9.

Affixing a photograph to a document not prepared by the consular officer, and if necessary, certifying it (except where fee 16 or 17 is applicable)

20.00

10.

Obtaining a legalisation or other certification from another authority upon any document (in addition to other direct costs if any)

42.00

11.

Supplying certified copies of documents which form part of the records of a court which is, or was formerly, established under the Foreign Jurisdiction Acts 1890((b)) and 1913((c)), for each page

59.00

12.

Making or verifying (including certifying when necessary) a written translation, for every 100 words or characters written in the foreign language (except where fee 31, 32 or 47 is to be taken) —

(a)

from or into Amharic, Chinese, Japanese, or Korean (three Japanese Kana count as one character when used independently)

67.00

(b)

from or into any other language

42.00

13.

Translating and interpreting viva voce except when performing official duties, for every 15 minutes

30.00

((a)) 1995 c.21.
((b)) 1890 c.37.
((c)) 1913 c.16.

17 Mar 2008 : Column 43WS

Part III

Passport Applications Made to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Fee £

14.

Administering an application made abroad, including applications for replacing an expired passport, replacing a passport of restricted validity with a new passport of full validity, issuing a new passport with amended personal details and replacing a lost or stolen passport and, if the application is successful, providing a 32 page passport —

(a) where the applicant is aged 16 years or over

119.00

(b) where the applicant is under 16 years old (for a passport valid for 5 years)

76.00

15.

Administering an application made abroad, including applications for replacing an expired passport, replacing a passport of restricted validity with a new passport of full validity, issuing a new passport with amended personal details and replacing a lost or stolen passport and, if the application is successful, providing a 48 page passport

144.00

16.

Administering an application made abroad and, if the application is successful providing an Emergency Passport (or other document not otherwise provided for in lieu of a passport)

55.50

17.

Administering an application made abroad and, if the application is successful providing a Temporary Passport valid for not more than one year

70.50


Next Section Index Home Page