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Justice

Prison Long Service and Good Conduct Medal

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Mr. David Hanson): Her Majesty the Queen has graciously given her approval for the introduction of a prison long service and good conduct medal.

This medal will be awarded to operational staff in the UK prison services on completion of 20 years continuous meritorious service and brings operational prison staff in line with other comparable organisations such as the police, fire service, ambulance service and the military, as well as other prison/correctional services within the Commonwealth. Prison officers do a difficult and dangerous job and it is right that they will in future receive public recognition for this vital work.

Cabinet Office

Public Services Forum (Government Contracting)

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr. Tom Watson): As Chair of the Public Services Forum (PSF) I have today placed in the Library of the House a new joint statement on access to skills, trade unions and advice in Government contracting developed by the PSF. This joint statement was developed in partnership by Government, trade unions, business and the third sector and its aim is to improve the quality of services delivered under Government contracts by raising the skills of employees working on these contracts.

For the UK to compete in the modern global economy, a world-class skills base is needed. Government have set a challenging target to ensure almost all adults (95 per cent.) have basic literacy and numeracy skills by 2020. It is important for Government to lead by example in making progress on this agenda, and to provide a framework for social partners to do the same. This joint statement will give many of those who work on Government contracts the opportunity to develop their basic skills where needed. This will have benefits for those who use public services, the individual employee and for the employer.


15 July 2008 : Column 16WS

Transport

Rail Franchise Enforcement Policy

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Tom Harris): The Department for Transport has today published the results from a consultation paper on rail franchise enforcement policy, “Rail Franchise Agreements and Closure Conditions”.

The document summarises the responses received to the consultation document together with the outcomes stated by the Department. The policy document details the Department’s stepped and pragmatic approach to enforcement. It also contains a statement of policy with respect to the imposition of penalties and the determination of their amount, which the Department has a legal obligation to consult on.

The purpose of the publication of the results is to provide transparency to the Department’s current policy and to ensure that it is easily understood. We acknowledge and welcome the input provided by the rail industry. It is available on the DfT’s website. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

Work and Pensions

Pension, Disability and Carers Service Business Plan

The Minister for Pensions Reform (Mr. Mike O'Brien): I am pleased to announce that the 2008-09 business plan for the Pension, Disability and Carers Service, an executive agency of the Department for Work and Pensions, has been published today.

The annual performance targets for the Pension, Disability and Carers Service in 2008-09 were previously published on 27 March 2008. Further information on these targets is contained within the business plan, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House.

Social Security Benefits

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): It has been brought to my attention that the reply I gave the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green, (Lynne Featherstone), (Official Report, 5 June 2008, column 1094W), contained incorrect information on the number of incidents of benefit fraud reported to the benefit fraud hotline. I apologise for this oversight.

The correct answer should have been:

Benefit Fraud Hotline Reports by Type, Great Britain

Hotline

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Number of calls received

211,054

199,004

211,599

215,924

237,107

Internet Referrals

20,780

32,960

57,543

69,866

78,230

Total

231,834

231,964

269,142

285,790

315,337

Source: National Benefit Fraud Hotline


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