(iv) Between 35 per cent. of the housing should be affordable, with a particular emphasis on larger family homes;
(v) There should be a management body to help develop the town, support people and businesses moving to the new community, and to co-ordinate service delivery.
In response to our invitation, we received 57 proposals for eco-towns. There has been a rigorous cross-Government assessment of these bids, particularly focusing on the existing transport infrastructure and local environment. We have also looked at the likely benefits to existing communities, the contribution the eco-town would make to local housing needs, and the likelihood of the proposal being successfully delivered.
Pennbury, Leicestershire: 12,000 to 15,000 homes on a development incorporating brownfield, greenfield and surplus public sector land four miles south east of Leicester.
Manby and Strubby, Lincolnshire: 5,000 homes, largely on brownfield land including a former RAF base. The nearest town is Mablethorpe.
Curborough, Staffordshire: 5,000 homes on the brownfield site of the former Fradley airfield, 10 miles from Burton.
Middle Quinton, Warwickshire: 6,000 homes on a former Royal Engineers depot, six miles south west of Stratford upon Avon.
Bordon-Whitehill, Hampshire: 5,000 to 8,000 homes on a site owned by the Ministry of Defence. The nearest town is Guildford.
Weston Otmoor, Oxfordshire: 10,000 to 15,000 homes on brownfield land. Three miles south west of Bicester.
Ford, West Sussex: 5,000 homes on a site which includes the former Ford airfield. The nearest town is Littlehampton.
Imerys China Clay Community, Cornwall: Around 5,000 homes to be built on former china clay workings, industrial land and disused mining pits. Close to St. Austell.
Rossington, South Yorkshire: Up to 15,000 homes regenerating the former colliery village of Rossington, three miles south of Doncaster
Coltishall, Norfolk: 5,000 homes on a former RAF airfield, eight miles north of Norwich.
Hanley Grange, Cambridgeshire: 8,000 homes, incorporating a former science park.
Marston Vale and New Marston, Bedfordshire: Up to 15,400 homes, on both brown and greenfield land south of Bedford.
Elsenham, Essex: At least 5,000 homes north east of the existing Elsenham village.
Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire: An eco-town proposal was submitted for Kingston-on-Soar, to the south of Nottingham. In response to representations from Rushcliffe Borough Council (RBC), this site is not to be pursued. However, the Government are proposing to carry out a further review in partnership with RBC to consider whether there is a suitable alternative location with the potential to be viable within the Rushcliffe local authority area.
Leeds City Region, Yorkshire: A number of eco-town proposals were submitted for locations within the area of Leeds City Region partnership of 11 authorities and principally between Leeds and Selby. The Leeds City Region Partnership has indicated support in principle for an eco-town within the sub-region. The Partnership has proposed a further study to compare the best alternative locations across the Leeds City Region partnership area. The Government have agreed to support this approach, on the basis that it will allow a further announcement to be made shortly of one or more sites for consultation.
These potential locations have been published as part of a consultation document Eco-townsLiving A Greener Future, inviting views on both the broader objectives and benefits of eco-towns, and on those locations which we regard as the most promising.
We will also be looking at the proposed schemes from promoters and we expect each proposal to be further refined and improved over the coming months. We will be looking for clear evidence that each scheme:
achieves the highest possible environmental standards, not only mitigating the impact of development, but positively enhancing the site, as well as reducing the need for residents to rely on cars;
is clearly deliverable, with funding identified and proper management arrangements set out;
is affordable, with a clearly agreed basis for contributions from private investors and public sector agencies.
A panel of experts will advise and challenge those leading the proposals to improve the environmental credentials of each project. Government will also be providing support to the relevant local authorities, comparable to the support on offer to local authorities designated as growth points or growth areas. We will continue to work in partnership with local government and the LGA as we move forward.
Stage One: Three month consultation on preliminary views on eco-town benefits and these shortlisted locations;
Stage Two: Further consultation this summer on a sustainability appraisal, which provides a more detailed assessment of these locations, and a draft planning policy statement;
Stage Three: A decision on the list of locations with the potential to be an eco-town as part of the final planning policy statement, later this year;
Stage Four: Like any other proposed development, individual schemes will need to submit planning applications which will be decided on the merits of the proposal.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn): As the next major step in delivering the proposals set out in the Governments Marine Bill White PaperA Sea Change, a draft Marine Bill will be laid before Parliament today. Copies of the draft Bill will be available in the Vote Office.
The Minister for Europe (Mr. Jim Murphy): My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary represented the UK at the informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers (Gymnich) in Brdo, Slovenia on 28 and 29 March 2008.
The Presidency and High-Representative Solana briefed Ministers on recent developments in the region. Ministers reiterated their commitment to the Annapolis process, and agreed that the EU, in its capacity as a member of the Quartet, should continue to focus on practical efforts to support the political process. The EU should focus particularly on continuing its work on Palestinian economic development and security sector reform, including capacity-building measures within the judiciary and police.
Ministers shared concern about Syrias policies in the Middle East and concluded that the EU needed to speak with one voice to Syria. While Ministers recognised Syrias importance in helping to resolve the conflict in the Middle East, my right hon. Friend the Foreign
Secretary emphasised the need to send a clear message that Syrias continued interference in Lebanon was unacceptable. He also called for the EU to do all it could to continue to support the Lebanese Government.
Ministers discussed how to take forward EU-Russia cooperation under the Medvedev administration. Ministers agreed that the relationship was strategically significant, not just in the context of economic sectors such as energy, but with regard to issues in the common European neighbourhood and promoting security and stability more broadly. The majority view was that swift progress on a mandate to open negotiations on a successor Partnership and Co-operation Agreement with Russia would therefore be useful in providing a framework for the relationship. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary underlined the importance of maintaining EU unity when dealing with Russia.
In a joint session with colleagues from the Western Balkans countries, Ministers focused on the regions prospects for joining the EU. The presidencys subsequent statement, which the Government broadly support, emphasised that it was important for the Western Balkans countries to make rapid progress on political and economic reforms, reconciliation and protection of ethnic minorities; welcomed the Commissions Communication on the Western Balkans; and called upon the EU to reaffirm its commitment to the success of enlargement within the region, so long as those countries aspiring to EU membership meet the established criteria.
Ministers stressed their strong concern over events in Tibet. They stated that the EU condemned all violence and called for it to cease, while asking that those arrested be treated in conformity with international standards; wished to uphold the transparency of information and free access by the press to Tibet. Ministers also noted the Dalai Lamas recent public commitment to non-violence and to the autonomy not independence of Tibet; and called for substantive and constructive dialogue that addressed core issues such as preservation of the Tibetan language, culture and traditions. The Government supported this position.
Ministers discussed the release of Fitna, a controversial short film on Islam, by the Dutch MP Geert Wilders. They reaffirmed that the right of freedom of expression was a basic value of the EU but stressed the importance of respect for others religious beliefs.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Dawn Primarolo): We are today laying before Parliament the Governments White Paper, Pharmacy in EnglandBuilding on Strengths, Delivering the Future (Cm 7341). This fulfils an undertaking I gave to the House on 24 July 2007. It also meets the commitment the Government gave in paragraph 4.47 of Our Health, Our Care, Our Say to develop pharmaceutical contractual arrangements in line with the wider ambitions of that White Paper.
This White Paper sets out our future proposals for developing pharmaceutical services. It demonstrates the Governments continued commitment to pharmacy, its place in the NHS and its role as a leading clinical profession in delivering better access to high quality services to patients and consumers.
It sets out how pharmacists will work to complement general practitioners in promoting health, preventing sickness and providing care that is more personal and responsive to individual needs. Pharmacists already play a vital role for local communities in dispensing medicines, and providing services such as supporting people who want to give up smoking. This extended role will see more pharmacists being able to prescribe for and deal with minor ailments on the national health service, as well as supporting those with long-term conditions and preventing illnesses through additional screening and advice.
This will enable pharmacies, many of which already open out of hours to provide increased access to the right medicines and the right care, in the right waymore personal and more responsive to individual needs.
become healthy living centres promoting health and well-being and helping people to take better care of themselves;
be able to prescribe certain common medicines and be the first port of call for minor ailmentssaving every GP up to the equivalent of one hour per day or up to 57 million GP consultations a year;
provide support for people with long-term conditionssuch as high blood pressure or asthma50 per cent. of whom may not take their medicines as intendedespecially those starting out on a new course of treatment;
be able to screen for vascular disease and certain sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia;
work much closer with hospitals to provide safe, seamless care; and
play a bigger role in vaccination programmes.
The White Paper also provides the Governments response to a review of national health services pharmaceutical contractual arrangements led by Anne Galbraith, former Chair of the Prescription Pricing Authority. Her report, Review of NHS pharmaceutical contractual arrangements, which was completed last year, has been placed in the Library and copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office. I am most grateful to Mrs Galbraith for the speed and efficiency in which she completed her report and her insights, which have helped shape our thinking as set out in this White Paper.
The Government have concluded that a number of structural changes are neededin terms of reforms which will enable appropriate action to be taken in the small minority of cases where performance is not meeting
accepted standards and to shift funding arrangements so that rewards are based on the quality, not the quantity, of the services provided.
The White Paper also considers the position of dispensing doctors and appliance contractorswith proposals to allow dispensing doctors to sell over-the-counter medicines and for appliance contractors to meet professional and high quality standards.
We will proceed quickly with the next stages to support implementation of the actions set out here. We are holding a series of events around the country beginning on 1 May 2008, to hear views from the public, from the NHS and from the professions. We will then consult fully later this summer on some of the key proposals for structural reform needed. That consultation will take full account of the final NHS Next Stage Review report to be published in due course.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith): In a statement to Parliament on the 14 November 2007, Official Report, column 667, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced a wide range of measures to counter terrorism, increase the resilience of communities to resist extremism and to strengthen our borders. The statement announced the decision to establish a UK Border Agency, a global organisation that will improve the UKs security through stronger border protection while welcoming legitimate travellers and trade.
The new UK Border Agency is today established as a shadow agency of the Home Office. The agencys purpose and objectives are set out in its first business plan which I am laying in the House today. That purpose is clear: it is to secure our border and control migration for the benefit of our country; protecting our borders and national interests; preventing border tax fraud, smuggling and immigration crime; and implementing decisions quickly and fairly.
The UK Border Agency will unite the work of the Border and Immigration Agency, Customs detection work at the border from Her Majestys Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and UKVisas from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), to create an organisation with a budget of over £2 billion, 25,000 staff, and operating in local communities, at our borders, and across 135 countries worldwide. The agency will deploy unprecedented power in pursuit of its goals.