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Written Ministerial Statements

The following statements were received between Monday 1 September and Tuesday 9 September 2008

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Manufacturing: New challenges, New Opportunities

The Minister for Energy (Malcolm Wicks): My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Competitiveness has made the following statement:

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Annual European Community Finances White Paper

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Kitty Ussher): I am today laying before Parliament, the annual European Community Finances White Paper “Statement on the 2008 EC Budget and Measures to Combat Fraud and Financial Mismanagement” (Cm 7371). This White Paper is the 28th in the series. It gives details of revenue and expenditure in the 2008 EC Budget and covers recent developments in EC financial management and measures to counter fraud against the EC Budget. It includes information on amendments to the arrangements for the financing of the annual budget of the European Communities in the Own Resources Decision area. It also includes updates on the EC Budget review, the new Own Resources Decision and recent measures taken to improve the management and control of the EC Budget.

The Public Accounts Commission: Sixteenth Report

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Angela Eagle): I welcome the work of the Public Accounts Commission (TPAC) on the new governance arrangements for the National Audit Office (NAO) as set out in its “Sixteenth Report” (HC 1027) published on 24 July.

The Government will continue to work with TPAC, the NAO, Ministry of Justice and Parliamentary Counsel to prepare provisions for the Constitutional Renewal Bill to implement the Commission’s recommendations.

Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Budget ECOFIN)

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Kitty Ussher): On 17 July 2008, the UK permanent representative to the EU represented the UK at the Budget Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).

The Council conducted its first reading of the EC Budget for 2009. The Council adopted a draft Budget that was supported by all member states.

During a conciliation meeting between the Council and the European Parliament, six joint statements relating to the Budget were agreed. These concerned: Structural and Cohesion Funds and Rural Development 2007-13 programmes; Recruitment in Relation to the 2004 and 2007 enlargement; the EU Solidarity Fund; the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and Emergency Aid Reserve; Implementation of the Budget in 2009; and an update of Administration financial programming. In addition Council agreed further statements on Payment Appropriations and Evaluation of Agencies.

The Government are supportive of these statements, which call for a greater degree of transparency, sound financial management and budget discipline in the areas they concern.

Communities and Local Government

Gypsy and Traveller Site Grant

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. Iain Wright): The Homes and Communities Agency as established in
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the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 will for the first time bring together in one agency housing and regeneration funding, public land and expertise to deliver decent, affordable housing and regenerate our communities by creating places where people choose to live. It will play a key role in turning our ambition to deliver three million new homes by 2020 into a reality.

As part of that role, I am today announcing that from 1 December 2008 the Homes and Communities Agency will take on responsibility for the Gypsy and Traveller Site Grant, which provides funding for the provision and refurbishment of Gypsy and Traveller sites. This approach will bring delivery of homes for Gypsies and Travellers into line with the arrangements for housing and accommodation delivery for the rest of the community. It reflects our determination to address the existing shortfall in accommodation for all in society, tackling the problems that can be caused by unauthorised camping and the poor life chances of Gypsies and Travellers themselves.

The HCA will be responsible for administering the Gypsy and Traveller Site Grant to meet ambitious but realistic targets for the delivery of pitches across England. Through its close relationship with local authorities and other delivery partners, the HCA will be well placed to step up the pace of delivery for the benefit of both Gypsies and Travellers and the settled community. This approach responds to the findings of the independent task group on site provision and enforcement, chaired by Sir Brian Briscoe, whose report issued in December found that the policy framework for site provision was sound, but that delivery was slow.

Ministers will continue to have oversight of the programme, ensuring that it achieves the Government’s objectives of meeting Gypsies’ and Travellers’ accommodation needs and supporting community cohesion. We will also be asking the HCA to recommend any changes to the programme for 2010-11 that may be necessary to improve delivery. The sum of £97 million was allocated for the grant through the CSR07 period, and funding for 2009-10 and 2010-11 will be transferred in full to the HCA on its establishment.


Service Children's Education

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg): The chief executive of Service Children’s Education has been set the following key targets for 2008-09.

Key Target 1

Key Target 2

Key Target 3

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Key Target 4

Key Target 5

Key Target 6

Military Low Flying

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg): I have today placed in the Library of the House a revised report giving a detailed account of the low flying training that has taken place in the UK Low Flying System for the training year April 2007 to March 2008.

The original report placed on 21 July 2008 was found to contain a number of printing errors that have been corrected.

The report can be viewed on the MOD’s website at:

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Hong Kong (Six-monthly Report)

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband): The latest report on the implementation of the “Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong” was published today. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House. A copy of the report is also available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at: www.fco.gov.uk. The report covers the period from 1 January to 30 June 2008. I commend the report to the House.


The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband): I refer hon. and right hon. Members to the written (Prime) ministerial statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister today.

Home Department

PA Consulting (Lost Data)

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith): I would like to update the House on the loss of sensitive data by PA Consulting and to inform the House that the Home Office has terminated the contract with PA Consulting that covered the handling of these data.

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