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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,
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.
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.
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.
He will write to all local authorities before 15 April asking that they send him, by the end of June, a full set of admission arrangements for all the schools in their area, and their account of the legality, fairness and effectiveness of the admission arrangements that are being proposed for 2009 school entries in their area.
He will consider these returns, act where necessary to ensure compliance with the code, and then report to me later in the summer on compliance for 2009 admissions.
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.
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.
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.
The Minister for Local Government (John Healey): I would like to report to the House that this morning Sir Ken Knight, the Governments 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 Kens 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 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
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.
|Table of Consular Fees|
|Notarial and Related Matters|
|((a)) 1995 c.21.|
((b)) 1890 c.37.
((c)) 1913 c.16.
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
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
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