The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): I am delighted to announce that the appointment of Andrew Bridges CBE as HM Chief Inspector of Probation for England and Wales has been extended until 31 March 2010. Mr Bridges expertise and knowledge will continue to play a key role in enabling the probation inspectorate to deliver a credible and effective inspection programme for the probation service and youth offending teams.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice):
The Legal Services Act received Royal Assent on 30 October 2007. Two of the key elements of the Act are the provision of a Legal Services Board (LSB) and the establishment of an Office for Legal Complaints (OLC). The LSB will be an over- arching
regulator and the OLC will deal with all complaints about regulated legal service providers.
Terence Connor; Stephen Green; William Moyes; Barbara Saunders; and Nicole Smith as the lay members; and
Rosemary Martin; Michael Napier; Andrew Whittaker; and David Wolfe as the non-lay members.
The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): I am today publishing the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) agency framework document which sets out the Governments vision for NOMS and how it will be governed as an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. Copies have been made available in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. The document is also available on the Ministry of Justice website at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/corporateinformation.htm.
NOMS has the twin aims of protecting the public and reducing reoffending. It is responsible for commissioning and delivering adult offender management services both in custody and in the community in England and Wales. The agency is central to the Ministry of Justices work to deliver better outcomes for society, improve further the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, and take forward recommendations for streamlining management structures and reducing overhead costs following Lord Carters latest review of prisons.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr. Tom Watson): The Cabinet Office has today published Greening Government ICT, which sets out the steps Government will take to reduce the carbon footprint of their PCs, laptops, data centres and other office equipment. Greening Government ICT also sets challenging targets for central Government and the executive agencies, and provides guidance on how these can be achieved.
The document Greening Government ICT can be downloaded from the CIO Council website along with a list of potential energy saving measures for ICT at www.cio.gov.uk/. Copies have also been placed in the Libraries of the House.
The Minister for the Cabinet Office (Edward Miliband): On 10 December 2007 the Government published its consultation document Limiting Pre-Release Access to Statistics. The consultation ran over 12 weeks and closed on 3 March 2008. The Government proposed to tighten the rules under which pre-release access can be granted by:
reducing pre-release access to a maximum of 24 hours;
reducing the number of statistics to which pre-release access is granted to a minimum; and
reducing the number of people to whom pre-release access is granted to a minimum.
The Government are taking forward its proposals and will shortly lay the Pre- Release Access to Official Statistics Order 2008 before Parliament for approval by resolution of each House of Parliament.
Copies of this report have been placed in the Libraries of the House. The report is also available on the Cabinet Office website at www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/consultations.
The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): I would like to inform the House that I intend to publish a command paper outlining the Governments response to the Modernisation Committees third report of the 2007-08 session on regional accountability (HC282) on Monday 21 July. Copies will be available in the Vote Office.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jim Fitzpatrick): Subsequent to written answers I gave on 29 January, 11 March and 2 April 2008, to parliamentary questions on data-handling, I would like to inform the House that further investigation has revealed additional information.
The response to the Hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mrs. Villiers) (Question 175768), [ 29 January 2008, Official Report, column 197W], should have included reference to three further instances of data being accessible overseas:
First, the Vehicle Operator Services Agency has an IT contract with Siemens covering the computerisation of the MOT scheme. The Siemens data centre is based in the UK and all operational data are stored in the UK. However, some of the data were processed by Siemens staff in India on a controlled basis for the purpose of correcting and updating software code. The data were not transferred to a physical storage device outside of the UK, and the data could not be saved, amended or copied to any device in India.
information relating to the construction/specification and the registration mark of all vehicles in Great Britain that are subject to the MOT scheme. This does not include
any details in relation to the registered keeper of the vehicle;
details of 65,500 nominated testers under the MOT scheme comprising individuals name, home address, date of birth, telephone number and driving licence number; and
details of 16,500 individuals authorised examiners under the MOT scheme comprising individuals name, business address, business telephone and fax number.
Separately, the central Department has a contract with Siemens for a public enquiry service that uses a system provided under contract by RightNow Technologies. That company back up the information transporting the data electronically via an encrypted channel to their Disaster Recovery Centre in Chicago where it is held in an unencrypted form in a physically secure environment. A further unencrypted tape backup is maintained by Iron Mountain in a vault in New Jersey. The information includes business contact details of DfT staff, and details of calls and callers names and telephone numbers for queries that have been referred to the DfT internal team for answer.
Finally the central Department uses an online survey site hosted by SurveyMonkey.com., a US company whose site is hosted in the United States. This facility has been used by the Department to conduct surveys including staff surveys. Personal information relating to DfT staff included name, workplace address, qualifications and employment experience. It was also used by VOSA to get feedback on staff events such as their annual conference.
The central Department uses an online survey site hosted by SurveyMonlcey.com., a US registered company whose site is hosted in the United States. This facility has been used by the Department to conduct surveys including staff surveys. Personal information relating to DfT staff included name, workplace address, qualifications and employment experience. It was also used by VOSA to get feedback on staff events such as their annual conference.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Tom Harris): The Highways Agency Annual Report and Accounts for 2007-08 is published today under section 7 of the Government Resources and Accounts Act 2000. A copy of the report will be placed in the House Library. Copies are available from the Vote Office.
Assuming the Bill receives Royal Assent, the Government propose to issue guidance and make secondary legislation to support the implementation of various provisions in the Bill. In preparation for this, and to inform debate in the remaining parliamentary stages of the Bill, the Department for Transport will shortly be publishing consultations covering:
draft guidance and regulations relating to quality partnership schemes and voluntary partnership agreements (to apply in England and, partly, in Wales); and
draft regulations needed to implement the new flexibilities for the community transport sector (to apply throughout Great Britain).
The Office of Fair Trading will also shortly be consulting on joint guidance with the Department, explaining how competition law applies in the bus market. This guidance will be relevant in England and Wales.
The Secretary of State for Transport (Ruth Kelly): I am publishing today, and placing in the Libraries of both Houses, Sir Joseph Pillings report of his independent strategic review of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the UKs aviation regulator. I commissioned this review last September, following a recommendation by the Transport Committee of this House.
I am grateful to Sir Joseph for his thoughtful report and his recognition of the important contribution which the CAA makes to aviation in the UK and internationally. He found that the CAA has been and continues to be highly successful, but he concluded that its framework and organisation could be modernised to meet future challenges in the fast-changing aviation sector.
Some of Sir Josephs recommendations are for the Government, including some which are relevant to the separate review of airport economic regulation which I announced recently, and to work on improving the passenger experience. I intend to consider these recommendations in detail over the summer and to make a fuller statement in the autumn. Interested parties who wish to comment on the report should write to me by the end of September.
Some of the key recommendations deal with the CAAs governance and would bring the way that the organisation operates more in line with modern regulatory practice. It would be advantageous to make the governance reforms soon, to help lead the further changes envisaged.
The current Chair, Sir Roy McNulty, completes his term next year after a very distinguished period in that office since 2001. My Department will shortly start the process of seeking a part-time non-executive Chair and then a new Chief Executive, on the basis envisaged by Sir Joseph Pilling.
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Purnell): I am pleased to announce that the Department for Work and Pensions has today laid in the House the 2007-08 annual reports and accounts for its executive agencies: Jobcentre Plus (HC 707), the Pension Service (HC 855), the Disability and Carers Service (HC 719), and the Rent Service (HC 729). The annual report and accounts of the Child Support Agency will be laid shortly.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): The employment and social policy informal meeting was held on 10 to 11 July 2008 in Chantilly, France. I represented the UK.
The meeting started with a Ministers only breakfast meeting looking at ideas to make social Europe more concrete and closer to its citizens. A social Europe week and a common declaration from all member states of the EUs social offer/deal to its citizens were some of the ideas raised.
There were three plenary sessions, each devoted to specific challenges linked to social Europe: the impacts of climate change and globalization, of changing demographic structures and the fights against poverty and discrimination. There was broad support by all delegations for the Commissions renewed social agenda and interesting discussions on poverty and active inclusion in particular. For the UK, I pledged broad support for the new proposals whilst highlighting some of the areas which would need further work. I raised the challenges posed by financial exclusion and the further possible useful work at a European level in this area. Other member states welcomed this positive statement on anti-discrimination and thought the financial exclusion point was a good example of specific problems needing concrete answers and they were willing to discuss further.