The Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Mr. John Hutton): It was announced in the White Paper on Nuclear Power 2008 that the Government would publish a public consultation on the Strategic Siting Assessment (SSA) process and criteria.
I have today issued a consultation document on the SSA process and criteria. Alongside this, the Government are publishing a study of the environmental and sustainability effects of the siting of new nuclear power stations in accordance with the proposed SSA criteria. The Government are seeking views from members of the public, industry, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or any other organisation, body or individual with an interest. The Government are also publishing today a Habitats Regulations Assessment Screening Report and the environmental study appendices.
The consultation will close on 11 November 2008. Copies of the Strategic Siting Assessment consultation document and the environmental study will be placed in the Library of the House and are also available together with the Habitats Regulations Assessment Screening Report and the appendices of the environmental study on the website of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform at: http://www.berr.gov.uk/energy/nuclearwhitepaper/consultations/page44523.html
The Minister for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs (Mr. Pat McFadden): I have today laid before Parliament the annual reports and accounts for 2007-08 for the eight Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) outside of London. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Also published today are the RDAs reported outputs for 2007-08. These results are evidence that the RDAs continue to play a valuable role in improving the economic performance of the English regions and, through working with their partners, the RDAs are making a real difference to the individual regional economies concerned. The figures cover the number of jobs created and safeguarded,
the number of people assisted to get a job, the amount of brownfield land brought back into use, the number of businesses created, the number of businesses assisted to improve their performance, the number of people assisted in their skills development and the amount of public and private sector regeneration infrastructure investment levered, all as a result of RDA activity.
Press releases on the outputs have been issued in each region. Copies of the output results have been placed in the House Library, and are also available on the website of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform at: http://www.berr.gov.uk/regional-dev-agencies /rda-performance/page46979.html
|Official Receptions Hosted by Ministers at the Department for Children, Schools and Families 2007-08
The Minister for Children, Young People and Families (Beverley Hughes): I would inform the House that the Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy has published its annual report for 2007-08. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls): Yesterday, I wrote to the chair of the DCSF Select Committee to update him on the position with the return of national curriculum test results to schools, placing a copy of the letter in the Libraries of both Houses.
Further results have been released to schools by ETS Europe this morning, taking the total of scripts marked and released to over 98 per cent. of marks at key stage 2
and some 88 per cent. in key stage 394.1 per cent. in maths, 93.4 per cent. in science and 76.9 per cent. in English.
QCA confirmed in a statement over the weekend that they are in discussions with ETS Europe following the unacceptable delays in delivering this years national curriculum test results. These discussions are highly sensitivelegally and financiallyand, as I set out to the House yesterday, it is very important that the QCA should be allowed to conclude them in a timely and orderly fashion in order to safeguard the interests of pupils, schools and taxpayers. Ministerial intervention, at this stage, would be totally inappropriate and would jeopardise the public interest.
I shall continue to update Parliament regularly over the coming weeks on progress with release of results and Ofquals work on marking quality. I will write regularly with an update to the chair of the Select Committee, copying this letter to Opposition spokespeople and the Speaker and placing a copy of the letter in the Libraries of both Houses.
At the same time, and following my oral report to the Select Committee last week, Lord Sutherland has started work on his independent inquiry and will be collecting evidence in August and September before reporting publicly (when the House returns) in the Autumn.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. Iain Wright): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is today publishing proposed changes to the draft revisions of the Regional Spatial Strategy for the South-West.
The Regional Spatial Strategy forms part of the statutory development plan for every local authority in the South-West, and sets the framework for the production of Local Development Frameworks and Local Transport plans. It provides the spatial plan for the development of the region, and provides the policy framework for employment, housing, transport and the environment.
The current strategy, initially published as Regional Planning Guidance, became the Regional Spatial Strategy in September 2004 with the enactment of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act. A draft revision of the Regional Spatial Strategy was submitted to Government in April 2006 by the South-West Regional Assembly. It was subsequently tested in an Examination in Public (EIP) between April and July 2007 and the report of the independent panel which conducted this examination was published in January this year.
The Secretary of State has considered the recommendations of this independent panel which held the EIP and has taken into account the representations made on the draft revision, and also changes in Government policy since the draft revision was submitted.
Todays publication of the Secretary of States proposed changes now represents the commencement of a public consultation of 12 weeks. Also being published are the report of a sustainability appraisal of the proposed changes and a Habitats Regulations Assessment.
Following consideration of the responses to the consultation, the Secretary of State expects to publish the finalised Regional Spatial Strategy for the South-West by the end of the year. On final publication it will supersede the current RSS.
In writing to the Regional Assembly to give notice of the publication of proposed changes, I have drawn particular attention to the need for further work by both the region and Government on the infrastructure required to deliver the strategy.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. Parmjit Dhanda): The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is today publishing proposed changes to the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) for the East Midlands (The East Midlands Plan). They follow the Public Examination held between May and July 2007 and the Panel Report published on 28 November 2007.
The Panel Report endorsed the strategy set out in the draft RSS, but made numerous recommendations to clarify and improve it. The Secretary of State has considered all of the panels recommendations, along with other relevant evidence together with updates to the Sustainability Appraisal and a Habitats Regulations Assessment. The main changes that are being proposed are:
Increased housing growth across the region to 21,750 per year for the period 2006-26. Much of the additional growth is proposed in and around the main cities of Derby, Leicester and Nottingham, recognising growth related to Growth Point agreements in those cities and surrounding areas (that is, the Three Cities Growth Point) and in other Growth Point agreements at Lincoln, Newark and Grantham.
No change to Growth Area plans in Northamptonshire, which were set in the Milton Keynes and South Midlands Sub-regional Strategy in 2005, though the plan period for the area is extended to 2026 and the housing provision figure for Northampton is replaced following a successful legal challenge (in 2006) which quashed the original figure.
Reduction in housing provision in Lincolnshire coastal districts (East Lindsey, Boston and South Holland) pending a coastal strategy being agreed which will consider growth needs and flood risk implications.
A new policy relating to affordable housing in rural areas has been added, and increased pitch requirements for Gypsies and Travellers are also proposed.
Rejection of the Panel's recommendation to delete Green Belt areas around Nottingham.
Removal of site specific references to major development sites around Nottingham, Leicester and Lincoln.
I have today written to the East Midlands Regional Assembly with the proposed changes which will be published today on the Government Office for the East Midlands website at: www.goem.gov.uk and distributed to interested people and organisations across the region. There will now be a public consultation period of 12 weeks on the proposed changes, which will end on 17 October.
The Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne): In July 2007, the Prime Minister asked my right hon. Friend the Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Mr. Ingram), to undertake a detailed study into the role of the Ministry of Defence in counter-terrorism and resilience. My right hon. Friend has now submitted his report. His study provides a thorough analysis of defences role and of the capabilities it brings to bear in support of the Governments counter-terrorism strategyCONTESTand domestic resilience. It reinforces a central theme of the National Security Strategythat security threats and hazards are intertwined, with no simple distinctions between defence and wider security, and domestic and overseas considerations. It endorses the direction in which the Government are moving the security agenda and it makes a number of recommendations as to how defence could further refine its support in these important areas.
The Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing (Mr. Tony McNulty): My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced in his statement on 14 November 2007 a review of what more we need to do to strengthen security to protect against the use of hazardous substances for terrorist purposes.
This review has been completed. I do not intend to publish it because I do not wish in any way to compromise our security. However, this statement provides a summary of the main conclusions of the review.
The review shows that a substantial amount of work has been undertaken in this area. It also identifies areas where further improvements could be made but recognises that we must ensure that protective security measures are proportionate to the risk. We need to ensure that individuals and businesses are free to carry on normal social, economic and democratic activities and, as a result, there will always be some vulnerability to the use of hazardous substances for terrorist purposes.