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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Home Energy Conservation Act Data

The Minister for the Environment (Mr. Phil Woolas): Data reported by energy conservation authorities in England under the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 in the period 1 April 1996 to 31 March 2007 have
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been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. These data have also been published on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ website. Authorities have reported an overall improvement in domestic energy efficiency of approximately 22 per cent. as measured against a 1996 baseline.

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Jonathan Shaw): The 2007-08 annual report and accounts for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science will be laid before Parliament today.

Departmental Expenditure Limits (Budget Switches)

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn): I am announcing the following DEL budget switches, in accordance with the Treasury’s consolidated budgeting guidance. Resource DEL will be decreased by £48,761,000 from £2,928,970,000 to £2,880,209,000 and the capital budget will be increased by £48,761,000 from £888,905,000 to £937,666,000. These non-voted DEL switches and the impact on resource and capital are as set out in the following table:

ChangeNew DEL








Of which:

Administration budget*






Near-cash in RDEL*
























* The total of ‘administration budget’ and ‘near-cash in resource DEL’ figures may well be greater than total resource DEL, due to the definitions overlapping.
** Capital DEL includes items treated as resource in estimates and accounts but which are treated as capital DEL in budgets.
*** Depreciation, which forms part of resource DEL, is excluded from total DEL since capital DEL includes capital spending and to include depreciation of those assets would lead to double counting.

Home Department

Visa Waiver Test

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith): Today my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and I are announcing the final stage of the UK’s first global review of visa regimes.

Britain thrives as a society and economy which is open for business and tourism to people from around the world, but only on the basis that there are clear and effective ways to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate travellers. This year we will introduce some of the
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biggest ever changes to strengthen Britain’s border security as we complete implementation of a system of triple checks: stronger overseas checks and wider pre-arrival screening; tougher checks at the UK border itself; and strong new measures within the UK—against illegal immigration, organised crime and other threats.

We believe our tough checks abroad, working with foreign Governments, are amongst the most important. Overseas controls start with fingerprint visas, pre-arrival watch list checks and officers stationed overseas at key crossing points. As part of these overseas defences our visa waiver test helps us determine whether our visa regimes are in the right places. The test was announced in March 2007. Travel from every country beyond the European economic area and Switzerland was measured against a range of criteria including illegal immigration, crime and security concerns. The test has been taken forward in close collaboration with other Departments across Whitehall. We have now reached the final stage of the test.

Our assessment found that there was a strong case for introducing a visa regime for a number of currently visa-free countries, based on the current level of risk posed to the UK by sufficient numbers of their nationals, or travellers claiming to be such. A visa regime is a simple but very effective immigration, crime and security control measure.

We recognise that we have historic, economic and political ties with the countries being examined; the introduction of a visa regime is a significant step and a decision we do not take lightly. For this reason, we will now enter a period of detailed dialogue with the Governments concerned to examine how risks can be reduced in a way that obviates the need for a visa regime to be introduced. This activity will last for six months. During this period, countries identified will need to demonstrate a genuine commitment to put into effect credible and realistic plans, with clear timetables, to reduce the risks to the UK, and begin real implementation of these plans by the end of the dialogue period.

The countries we are working with through the mitigation process are: Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela. Promising and constructive dialogue has already begun with a number of countries but more is required.

The test also indicated that a number of changes were possible for countries currently with visa status. Over the next six months, we will study the options further to see how the visa process can be more closely calibrated to the risks nationals from these countries pose, with consequent benefits for legitimate travellers.

We expect the first consequent changes from the test to be introduced in 2009. The British Government are determined to operate a firm but fair immigration policy. It gives a high priority to treating all foreign nationals coming to or present in the UK with dignity and respect, and the highest legal standards. However, it expects all visitors to the UK to play by the rules. The UK will always welcome genuine visitors, whether business, tourist, student or family, but will continue to take all steps necessary to protect the security of the UK.

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Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Maria Eagle): I am today laying before Parliament, with the Comptroller and Auditor General, the annual report and accounts for 2007-08 for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. It is being laid before the Scottish Parliament by the Scottish Ministers simultaneously.

The annual report and accounts describe the activities of the authority in paying financial compensation to victims of violent crime, under the terms of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1995.

The accounts estimate the final settlement value of cases in progress and the predicted value of applications which have not yet been received in respect of crimes that have already occurred. As a result, the balance sheet at 31 March 2008 shows net liabilities of £1.29 billion.

In 2007-08 the authority received 53,317 applications for compensation and resolved 65,248. The number of cases outstanding at 31 March 2008 was 74,656. The proportion of cases decided within 12 months was 63.97 per cent.

Judicial Appointments Commission Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08

The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): The “2007-08 Annual Report and Accounts for the Judicial Appointments Commission” will be laid before Parliament today.

I welcome the publication of the second annual report of the Judicial Appointments Commission. The Commission plays a vital role in the selection of judges and in making recommendations about judicial appointments to me as Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor.

I am glad that the report reflects the hard work and dedication of the Commissioners and staff under the leadership of the chairman, Baroness Prashar. In particular, the report details how the Commission have built on the foundations of their first year of operation by reviewing and improving their selection processes as well as striving to encourage a wider pool of applicants.

I look forward to working with the Commission, in the coming year, as they seek to build on these achievements.

Rights and Responsibilities Agenda (Offender Compacts)

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Mr. David Hanson): I wish to update the House on the compact with offenders announced in the “Prison Policy Update” paper of January 2008 and written ministerial statement of 31 January, Official Report, column 37WS. The compacts I propose will emphasise the need for offenders to accept the responsibilities of their sentence, in return for which they may be entitled to some benefits during the sentence when the obligations are met. Today I am announcing the commencement of four pilots, with the aim in due course of implementing such compacts across the prison estate and for offenders on community orders.

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In order to ensure appropriate behaviour offenders can earn access to certain privileges, particularly during their time in custody. These advantages must be earned and offenders must take responsibility for their behaviour and take the opportunities for reform offered to them through commitment, hard work, and delivery against the aims of their sentence plans.

The existing Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme in prisons is a fundamental part of achieving this. It categorises offenders according to their behaviour into basic, standard and enhanced level, and these levels directly equate to the earned privileges they then have access to. This has been a valuable policy which has played an important part in securing order and control in prisons. There is now a need to build on this and ensure a consistent, firm approach is developed alongside it which sees offenders being required to commit to their own reform.

Under the new proposals offenders will not only need to demonstrate basic compliance, but must show commitment beyond this in both achieving sentence planning objectives and in making reparation to the community wherever the opportunity arises. It is important that the public understand and have confidence in the basis on which prisoners are granted enhanced privileges in custody. The scheme I am announcing will deliver this objective.

On 21 July 2008, three pilots will commence in prisons and one in the community, all in the West Midlands. The pilots will introduce a standard format for the compacts for evaluation. I also propose an “End of Custody” report for short sentence prisoners which will summarise the offender’s time in custody based on effort and achievement and provide those who have shown commitment to their own improvement with evidence to take into the community. The pilots will run for an initial six months with the aim of rolling out across all prisons and probation next year.

In this way, the custody pilots will build on the existing IEP scheme, which currently includes the use of a compact as good practice, in order to:

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The community pilots will use induction processes and existing examples of induction agreements with offenders in the community to:

Northern Ireland

Youth Justice Agency Annual Reports and Accounts 2007-08

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Paul Goggins): I have placed copies of the “Youth Justice Agency’s Annual Report and Accounts” for 2007-08 in the Libraries of both Houses.

This is the Agency’s fifth annual report since its inception on 1 April 2003. It achieved 7 of its 9 key performance targets and 15 of its 18 development objectives.


New Cars (Emissions Targets)

The Secretary of State for Transport (Ruth Kelly): The Government are today publishing a consultation document and accompanying impact, assessment on the European Commission proposal for a regulation on the CO2 emissions of new cars, putting in place a framework to encourage industry to develop greener, more fuel efficient cars.

The UK is urging the Commission to adopt a longer term target of 100 grammes of CO2 per kilometre, as part of the Government’s wider strategy to address the issue of climate change. This proposal has the potential to deliver a cut in CO2 emissions from new cars of about 40 per cent. over the next 12 years, and by 2020 could reduce the running costs for consumers buying new cars by about £500 a year, a particularly important consideration at a time of rising oil prices.

The European Commission’s own proposals for a target of 130 grammes of CO2 per kilometre by 2012 are expected to deliver annual CO2 savings of just over 6 million tonnes a year in the UK by 2020. Achieving the UK-proposed target of 100 grammes of CO2 per kilometre by 2020 would save an additional 5 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020. In total, this is equivalent to around a third of the total projected CO2 savings from domestic transport, or around 2 per cent. of the UK’s current overall CO2 emissions.

Where the Government have a view on aspects of the proposed regulation, we set this out in the consultation
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document. The UK strongly supports a move to mandatory CO2 targets for new cars; this would be better for the environment and better for consumers. We would like to see a strong environmental outcome and for this reason we have been taking the lead at the European level for a longer term target of 100 grammes of CO2 per kilometre by 2020 to be added to the regulation.

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