|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
The Minister for Local Government (John Healey): On 4 February 2008, Official Report, column 47WS, I laid before Parliament a written ministerial statement about payments under the Local Authority Business Growth Incentives scheme (LABGI) in the light of legal challenge. I am now in a position to announce the methodology the Government intend to use, to make additional payments to local authorities for years 1 and 2 of the scheme and to make payments for year 3 of the three-year scheme.
For years 1 and 2, the Government propose to make additional payments to eligible local authorities using all Valuation Office Agency change codes which record an increase in rateable value and which were not previously used in LABGI calculations. This will ensure that all codes that could contain elements of business growth are taken into account. As a result, we propose that additional payments totalling approximately £50.9 million should be made to authorities (approximately £13.5 million for year 1 and £37.3 million for year 2).
For year 3, the Government intend to replicate the revised methodology for years 1 and 2 of the scheme in year 3. As I indicated in my statement of 4 February, it is necessary at this stage to retain a portion of the year 3 funding as a contingency and I intend to retain £100 million.
A further announcement about the distribution of the remaining funding will be made in due course. This funding will be allocated to local authorities in full, in line with the policy purposes for which LABGI was designed. The exact methodology will be confirmed once any uncertainty associated with legal challenges has been resolved.
The Government, therefore, are able to allocate around £246 million to authorities at this stage for year 3 of the scheme. As in previous years, it will be necessary to apply a scaling factor to the calculated allocations in year 3 to ensure that the funding distributed does not exceed the amount available. Each authoritys allocation will be scaled back to 28 per cent.
Further details of the methodology used for calculating the latest payments for all three years of the scheme can be found in a technical note which is being published today on the Communities and Local Government website at: http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/labgi/technote0708.pdf
Details of the proposed funding for each qualifying authority under the Governments proposals can be found at: http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/labgi/draftdtmn0708v2.pdf
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Andy Burnham): I am today laying the draft Heritage Protection Bill and explanatory notes for pre-legislative scrutiny. Copies of the related Impact Assessment are available in the Vote and Printed Paper Offices.
This is a draft Bill for England and Wales, which sets out the legislative framework for a unified and simpler heritage protection system that will be more open, accountable and transparent. The new system will provide more opportunities for public involvement and community engagement in understanding, preserving and managing our heritage. As the Impact Assessment makes clear, the main benefits of the reforms introduced by the Heritage Protection Bill are not best expressed in terms of the financial balance sheet, but are better understood in terms of public value and sustainability. The reforms set out in this Bill will enable us to preserve the historic environment and manage its transition to the future, in the light of both present values and in the interest of future generations.
The draft Bill is based on the proposals set out in the White Paper, Heritage Protection for the 21st Century (March 2007), which itself was based on three key principles: the need to develop a unified approach to the historic environment; maximising opportunities for inclusion and involvement; and supporting sustainable communities by putting the historic environment at the heart of an effective planning system.
The draft Heritage Protection Bill contains provisions for a single system for national designation (registration) of terrestrial heritage assets to replace the listing of buildings, scheduling of monuments and registering of parks, gardens, battlefields and, in Wales, historic landscapes. In England, we will be transferring responsibility for national designation of all these assets to English Heritage; in Wales that responsibility will remain with the Welsh
Ministers. There will be new Heritage Registers, one each for England and Wales, containing details of all nationally designated heritage assets, as well as world heritage sites in England and Wales. There will also be formal appeals or review mechanisms for registration decisions, and provisional registration to give interim protection to historic assets while they are being considered for registration, as well as wider formal consultation on applications to register.
Alongside this unification of designation, we will be unifying and streamlining the associated consent processes, with the introduction of a new Heritage Asset Consent to replace Listed Building Consent and Scheduled Monument Consent, and the merger of Conservation Area Consent with planning permission. In England, the new Heritage Asset Consent will be administered by local planning authorities, allowing the management of the historic environment to take place at local level; in Wales, the draft Bill will provide flexibility to allow central decision making where appropriate, recognising the different levels of capacity in Wales.
We recognise the need for effective conservation and management of the historic environment at local level to be knowledge-based, and for the records of our historic environment to be available to as many people as possible. This Bill will secure the basis for informed stewardship of the historic environment, within and beyond the planning system, by placing local authorities under a new statutory duty to maintain or have access to an Historic Environment Record (HER). HERs are a comprehensive resource on the local historic environment, containing information on archaeological sites and finds, historic buildings and historic landscapes, complementing and enriching our existing collections of museum, archives and libraries.
The draft Bill will also introduce a new statutory framework for voluntary management agreements between the owners of heritage sites and structures and local or other authorities. These agreements will free owners from the need for repetitive consent applications for similar works, reducing the bureaucratic and administrative burdens for owners and local authorities alike, and providing greater certainty on the long-term management of the site.
Striking the balance between flexibility and the need to ensure protection alongside conservation and management characterises our proposals to reform the marine heritage protection system in England and Wales. We have broadened the range of marine historic assets that can be protected, ensuring that there is greater consistencywhere appropriatewith the terrestrial system, and brought greater flexibility to the licensing system. As we have done for terrestrial designations, we have also built a formal consultation process into the registration of marine heritage sites and ensured protection for those assets formally being considered for designation.
These reforms will give us a heritage protection system that is open, flexible and accountable. Our heritage is an important source of national and community identity; people recognise its value and
work hard, voluntarily and professionally, to ensure its conservation and pass it on. We are increasingly recognising the value of the historic environment in contributing to the Governments wider agenda in terms of place-making and promoting economic prosperity through regeneration and sustainable use of existing resources. The proposals in the draft Heritage Protection Bill will enable us and future generations to benefit from a thriving, well-managed, sustainable and widely-enjoyed historic environment.
The draft Bill we are publishing today follows long and extensive consultation. We are publishing in draft to generate and benefit from the widest possible debate. If there are proposals for further changes, we will consider them carefully in the light of all the views expressed.
The Minister for the Armed Forces (Mr. Bob Ainsworth): A new call-out order has been made under section 56 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 so that reservists may continue to be called-out into permanent service to support military operations in the Balkans. The order takes effect from 2 April 2008.
Over the next 12-month period we expect to have some 20 reservists in theatre at any one time filling a variety of different posts, including staff officers, specialists and members of the training teams.
The Minister for Science and Innovation (Ian Pearson): I am today placing in the Libraries of both Houses copies of a study by the Intellectual Property Institute (IPI) into the effect on the UK art market of the introduction of the artists resale right (ARR).
The Directive 2001/84/EC on the resale right for the benefit of the author of an original work of art was adopted in 2001. This required a new right, artists resale right (often referred to by its French name droit de suite) to be introduced into the United Kingdom by 1 January 2006.
Due to concerns over the potential impact that the introduction of ARR might have on the UK art market, the UK Government successfully secured a number of concessions within the directive to lessen its impact. These were:
A cap of €12,500 royalty on any one sale.
A commitment from the EC that they would make it a priority to negotiate internationally to make the relevant article of the Berne Convention mandatory so that the right would be introduced in the USA and Switzerland (on which little has yet been done nor it seems is likely to be done).
A derogation to 2010, extendable upon request to 2012, allowing the UK to delay applying the right to works by deceased artists.
The implementing regulations were brought into force in the UK on 14 February 2006. ARR entitles artists and, for 70 years after death, their successors in title, to a percentage of the sale price whenever original works of art are re-sold in transactions involving art market professionals.
An assessment of the impact on the UK art market of the introduction of artists resale right (ARR).
An assessment of the costs, both to business and collecting societies of administering the right.
An assessment of the benefit to artists in the introduction of the right.
The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Douglas Alexander): We are gravely concerned about the situation in Gaza. The closure of Gazas crossings is contributing to the collapse of the economy. There are shortages of essential humanitarian supplies such as medicines, foodstuffs and hearing aids. Restrictions on supplies of fuel and electricity have led to widespread power cuts and water shortages. While we fully understand Israels security concerns, we do not support the decision to close Gaza crossings. The Foreign Secretary and I have called on Israel to open them, and to lift all restrictions immediately on humanitarian supplies and electricity. While resolving the humanitarian situation is in the hands of the parties concerned, we are doing what we can to help alleviate the situation.
In order to address the humanitarian situation, to support the Palestinian economy and to meet the urgent funding needs of the Palestinian Authority, we intend to provide an additional £30 million in support to the Palestinians in 2007-08, taking our total contribution to £63.6 million for this financial year. This is part of the pledge of up to £243 million over three years, linked to political progress, which I announced at the Paris donor conference last December. The UK is leading the international community in following through on its Paris pledges promptly, providing funding when it is most needed before other pledges come through.
This new funding will strengthen the Palestinian Authoritys ability to take forward reform at a critical time. It will help pay teachers, doctors and engineers, keep basic services running and meet the budget shortfall facing the government of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. It will directly benefit Gazans, as well as Palestinians living in the West Bank.
All funding will be delivered through reputable international institutions and safeguards will be put in place to ensure it is properly used. Our support for the
Palestinian Authority will be routed through the World Bank and the ECs new aid fund known as PEGASE.
DFIDs support for Gazans includes our agreement to provide £100 million over five years to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). UNRWA provides healthcare, housing, education and food to Palestinian refugees across the Middle East. Seventy per cent. of people in Gaza are refugees who will benefit directly from this assistance.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Maria Eagle): My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, has made the following written ministerial statement.
The Legal Services Commission (LSC), the Ministry of Justice and the Law Society of England and Wales today reached agreement on the best way forward for legal aid providers following the Court of Appeal judgment on the Unified Contract (29 November 2007).
The agreement was achieved through a series of constructive discussions between the three organisations. The agreement is designed to provide a significant period of certainty and stability for civil legal aid providers to enable them to adapt to the changes to the legal aid system that have already been introduced, and to consider and plan for the future. The agreement also addresses a number of specific issues that the Law Society has identified to the LSC and Ministry as being of concern to civil legal aid providers and, where these issues require further consideration, sets up joint mechanisms to address these collaboratively.
The main points of agreement are:
in order to provide a period of certainty and stability for civil legal aid providers it is agreed not to terminate the existing civil Unified Contract until it expires in 2010, subject to the conditions set out in the agreement;
my Department and the LSC agree not to introduce any other changes to civil, family and asylum contracts for solicitors and Not-for-Profit providers before April 2010, other than those set out in the agreement;
the Law Society agrees not to pursue its current legal challenge to the new civil fee schemes introduced in 2007 and early this year, and not to support any further such challenges;
to assist providers in planning for the future, my Department and the LSC agree to publish details and a timetable of the future programme of civil legal aid reforms;
that all three organisations have a strong commitment to work together in the future to develop the reforms and to seek to resolve any disputes in this way rather than through litigation;
there will be a few targeted increases in some of the fees in the civil fee schemes already introduced; and
further practical issues, including arrangements for dealing with payments on account and claims on cases over six years old are set out in the agreement.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|