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The Minister for the Cabinet Office (Edward Miliband): In line with established practice, guidance has today been issued to civil servants in UK Departments on the principles that they should observe in relation to the conduct of Government business in the run-up to the forthcoming elections to local authorities in England and Wales and to the Greater London authority, that are taking place on 1 May 2008.
The guidance sets out the principles on the need to maintain the political impartiality of the civil service, and the need to ensure that public resources are not used for party political purposes. The period of sensitivity preceding the local elections starts on 10 April.
The new process for post-legislative scrutiny introduces a systematic approach for strengthening the scrutiny of laws after they have been enacted by Parliament. The aim is to complement the Governments internal departmental scrutiny with parliamentary scrutiny, principally by Committees of the House of Commons, to provide a reality check of new laws after three to five years.
Our decisions were informed by the Law Commission report (Post-legislative ScrutinyCm 6945), published on 25 October 2006, following a request from the Government. We are most grateful to the Commission for its thoughtful and considered review.
The Secretary of State for Transport (Ruth Kelly):
I have today laid before Parliament a policy statement on the exercise of my powers in relation to passenger rail franchising under section 26(1) of the Railways Act 1993. Amendments to that Act made by the Railways Act 2005, which transferred certain franchising functions of the Strategic Rail Authority to the Secretary of State,
require me to publish a statement of policy about how I propose to exercise my powers under section 26(1).
The statement sets out how I intend to award rail franchises in future, which is by means of competitive tender wherever possible. The statement also sets out
those circumstances in which it is likely that an invitation to tender will not be issued, and clarifies those circumstances where a franchise agreement may be extended.