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NHS Foundation Trusts

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): The chairman of Monitor—the statutory name of which is the Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts—announced last week that, in accordance with section 35 of the National Health Service Act 2006, Monitor has decided to authorise the following NHS acute and mental health trusts as NHS foundation trusts from 1 June:

Monitor’s announcement brings the total number of NHS foundation trusts to 99. A copy of Monitor’s press notice has been placed in the Library.

The Government remain committed to offering all NHS acute and mental health trusts the opportunity to apply for foundation status as soon as practicable. Monitor is now authorising trusts on a monthly basis, and further waves of NHS foundation trusts are set to follow.

NHS Carbon Reduction Strategy

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Ivan Lewis): The Government launched on 29 May 2008 a consultation exercise on the National Health Service carbon reduction strategy.

The NHS is Europe’s largest employer with 1.3 million people, or 5 per cent. of the United Kingdom workforce, and is often the largest single employer in each of the regions of England. Given its size, the NHS in England
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is responsible for nearly 3 per cent. of UK carbon dioxide emissions and 30 per cent. of public sector emissions.

In the ten years from 1990 to 2000, the NHS successfully reduced its building energy use by 20 per cent. As part of the Government’s climate change programme 1998-99, some early targets on NHS carbon reduction from building energy use were set for NHS trusts to reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency.

The NHS has already made good progress, but there is still much to be done. In the ten years from 1990 to 2000, the NHS successfully reduced its building energy use by 20 per cent.

The strategy recognises that the NHS has done much good work in increasing its sustainability, but also recognises that much more can be done.

The purpose of the strategy is to:

The core of this strategy is action. It has highlighted the ten achievable, practical and sustainability-improving actions to win. The top ten actions are:

The strategy is the first product of the new NHS sustainable development unit. It forms the first step of a sustainable development programme for the NHS.

Based on the feedback from the consultation responses, expected by 21 August, it is intended that the strategy will be published in the autumn.

“Saving Carbon, Improving Health, a Draft Carbon Reduction Strategy for the NHS in England—a
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Consultation Document” has been placed in the Library and copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office.

Health and Social Care

The Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson): The Department is launching a consultation today on proposals for five essential elements of a long-term strategy to support volunteering in health and social care. The consultation document has been placed in the Library and copies are available for hon. Members in the Vote Office.

A volunteering strategy will articulate the key actions needed to address the perceived obstacles to making a refreshed vision for volunteering in health and social care a reality. Informed by the consultation process, the proposed strategy will provide a framework through which to pursue long-term organisational and culture change across the whole system to support volunteering more effectively, in relation to:

The strategy will build on existing best practice and build partnerships for sustained involvement of volunteers through an increasingly diverse range of services in statutory and non-statutory settings. It will provide the basis for more coherent national investment by the Department, to improve the strategic impact of volunteering, for the benefit of patients, carers and service users.

The consultation will run until 30 September 2008, with a view to my Department setting out a final strategy and implementation plan early in 2009.

Home Department

Tackling Extremism

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith): Local communities working in partnership with their local authorities, police, education institutions and others, are at the heart of stopping people becoming or supporting violent extremists. Today my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, the Secretary of State for Justice and I have published detailed guidance to organisations actively to assist them with their work.

This guidance is supported by activity and funding from across government, including £12.5 million to be spent to counter violent extremism and identify and support those individuals at risk across a range of key sectors, including in prisons, among youth offenders, and through community and police-led projects.

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Our aim is to improve the long-term security of the United Kingdom. This work complements the action that the security agencies are taking to disrupt those who represent an imminent threat. Along with “The Prevent Strategy: Stopping People Becoming or Supporting Terrorists and Violent Extremism, a Guide for Local Partners”, we are also publishing “Preventing Violent Extremism: A Strategy for Delivery”, which summarises the strategic framework and key priorities.

Report by the Independent Monitor for Entry Clearance Refusals with Limited Rights of Appeal

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith): I am today laying before Parliament a copy of the report by Mrs. Linda Costelloe Baker, the independent monitor for entry clearance refusals with limited rights of appeal, covering the period 1 April to 30 September 2007. A copy is also being made available on the UKBA website at, together with the UK Border Agency’s response to the independent monitor’s recommendations.

I am most grateful to Mrs. Costelloe Baker for this thorough and positive report based on the 824 sample cases which she has reviewed for the period 1 April to 30 September 2007.

In the report, Mrs Costelloe Baker comments that “UKvisas has managed a huge programme of business change, holding on to principles of fairness and good service in the face of a strong ‘controls’ agenda. It sets itself high standards and deserves the praise and awards it receives for its successes”.

Mrs. Costelloe Baker also makes a number of constructive recommendations as to how the UK Border Agency can continue to improve the quality of decision making, customer service and complaint handling. The UK Border Agency welcomes these comments and is keen to use these recommendations to drive up the quality of its service to customers whilst maintaining a high level of immigration control.

I wish to record our thanks to Mrs. Costelloe Baker for the work and effort she has put into producing this her third report as independent monitor for entry clearance refusals with limited rights of appeal. The independent monitor’s next report will cover the period 1 October 2007 to 31 March 2008 and will be published in the second half of 2008.

Innovation, Universities and Skills

EU Education Council

The Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education (Bill Rammell): I represented the UK at Education Council, on behalf of DIUS and DCSF.

Ministers adopted conclusions on multilingualism, noting that the Commission would produce a policy framework on this issue in the autumn. Ministers also adopted conclusions on adult learning that set out specific measures to be undertaken in this area by the
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Commission and the member states between 2008 and 2010. The text of the conclusions is in line with UK national priorities.

The Council agreed a general approach on the European year of creativity and innovation in 2009. I stated that the UK supported the year but queried whether matched funding would be available for member states to undertake events as part of this initiative. The Commission confirmed that project funding would come from existing EU programmes. Ministers also discussed and adopted conclusions on promoting creativity and innovation through education and training. We strongly support these conclusions which note the importance of creativity and innovation for reaching Lisbon targets, and the need to develop innovative capacity in children from an early age.

The Presidency provided an update on the decision to extend the Erasmus Mundus programme beyond 2009. The European Parliament is currently discussing this dossier, and the French presidency will take this forward with a view to reaching a First Reading agreement in the autumn.

The Presidency noted the state of play between the Council and Parliament in the recast decision setting up the European training foundation. The Parliament has now rejected the Council’s position regarding the composition of the foundation’s governing board, so this dossier is likely to progress to a Second Reading.

The Commission presented its proposals for two recommendations in the area of European vocational education and training: a credit system; and a quality assurance reference framework. These two proposals have recently been the subject of explanatory memoranda from the Government and will be subject to discussion by officials, with the aim of Ministers reaching an agreement at the next Education Council in November.

The French Minister presented France’s presidency priorities in the field of education: lifelong learning; enhanced co-operation in European vocational education and training; and youth mobility.

International Development

International Agricultural Research Organisations

The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Douglas Alexander): I am today announcing the allocation of £150 million to support international agricultural research organisations. Of this, £130 million is allocated to the international research centres of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the balance to other international agricultural research organisations which complement the work of the CGIAR. By the end of the five year period this will represent an increase from the present £20 million per annum to £35 million per annum. Our funds will be spent on: developing new varieties of staple crops and livestock (including adaptation to climate change); developing new income opportunities for communities from high value commodities (fruits, vegetables, fisheries and forest products); conserving crop and animal biodiversity for future use; achieving the more sustainable
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management of water, land and forestry resources; and improving agricultural and food policies (including markets and trade).

This is part of the £400 million DFID has already announced for agricultural research under DFID’s new five year research strategy.

Burma Cyclone Nargis

The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Douglas Alexander): A month has passed since cyclone Nargis hit Burma on 2 May. While access has improved, the situation remains extremely grave. The UN continues to estimate that 2.4 million people have been directly affected by the cyclone and only 1 million of those have so far received any form of relief. Most of those who have been reached are in the most accessible and least badly affected regions. The official Burmese death toll is 78,000 and 56,000 missing. The threat of further deaths from infectious diseases and malaria is significant. Priority needs are food, shelter, clean drinking water and medical supplies.

The delivery of relief goods is increasing. The UN air-bridge between Bangkok and Rangoon is operating. We estimate a total of 237 flights have arrived since the cyclone struck. The first of nine World Food Programme helicopters is now delivering aid supplies to the Delta region.

The UK Government’s priority has been, and remains, to ensure that relief reaches those who need it most. To this end, I attended the UN/ASEAN conference in Rangoon on 25 May at the personal invitation of the UN Secretary-General. The conference confirmed the importance of international aid workers being given necessary access to affected areas and the key role to be played by the ASEAN nations in facilitating the international relief effort.

Since the conference there has been some improvement in access. No visas have been refused to UN or international NGO personnel in the last seven days. The Myanmar Red Cross has been able to scale up its operations substantially in the Delta. Five international medical teams from countries in the region are now providing support to national health care staff in the Delta. A DFID team managed to travel to the Irrawaddy Delta on 29 May.

However, significant concerns remain. Visa extensions are being granted for only one or two weeks at a time; there have been restrictions on dates of travel and requirements that Government liaison officers accompany relief staff. There are still too few relief workers based in the Delta.

The UK remains the largest single donor to the relief effort. We have contributed £7 million to the UN Flash Appeal; we have also channelled £6.7 million through international NGOs, including Merlin, MSF Holland and Save the Children. Our humanitarian team, which has been operating in Rangoon for three weeks, continues to play a crucial role in helping coordinate the overall aid operation.

A total of 20 DFID-funded aid flights have now arrived in Rangoon, delivering plastic sheeting and blankets for 250,000 people, hygiene kits and flat-bottomed boats for use in the Delta. All these items
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have been consigned to the UN, NGOs and the Red Cross. We are also transporting 162,000 mosquito nets into Burma.

In addition to our previous commitment of £17 million, I am today announcing a further £10.5 million, bringing our total contribution to £27.5 million. These additional funds will be channelled through the Red Cross, NGOs and local community-based organisations. As before, none of the UK’s assistance will go through the Burmese regime.

While the Government’s immediate focus is to provide immediate assistance to those affected by the cyclone, this does not diminish our commitment to the restoration of accountable, democratic Government in Burma. It is an indictment of the Burmese regime that they proceeded with their constitutional referendum in the immediate aftermath of this natural disaster. The official results lack all credibility. I am also disappointed and saddened that the Government has once again ignored the international community and extended Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention on 27 May.

Millions of people remain in desperate need. Our priority remains to get assistance to those that need it. To do so, the regime’s promises to the UN Secretary-General must be turned into action. Together with the UN, ASEAN and NGOs, the UK Government will be monitoring the situation closely in the days and weeks ahead.

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