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Written Ministerial Statements

The following statements were received between Monday 15 September and Tuesday 16 September 2008

Communities and Local Government


The Minister for Local Government (John Healey): I can confirm to the House that the Government will shortly commence the early recruitment and appointment of a chair and chief executive of the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), before Royal Assent of the Planning Bill.

The IPC will act as the decision-maker for the majority of major infrastructure consents, acting within a national policy framework set by Government. Early appointments will give infrastructure developers the confidence to work on applications for development consent under the new regime, with the knowledge that the IPC will be operational and able to provide advice by the time the first national policy statements are designated, anticipated to be towards the end of 2009.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £50,000 for this new service will be sought in a supplementary estimate for CLG. Pending that approval, expenditure estimated at £50,000 will be met by a repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund, under the established terms of that fund.

Regional Spatial Strategy (North-West)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. Parmjit Dhanda): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is publishing on 30 September the final revision of the “Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) for the North-West of England”. This is a slight amendment to the late August or early September date which my 17 July statement suggested, Official Report, column 42WS. The reports of a consolidated “Sustainability Appraisal, a Habitats Regulations Assessment and Sustainability” statement will also be published alongside the RSS on 30 September.

The “Regional Spatial Strategy” forms part of the statutory development plan for every local authority in the North-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 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 January 2006 by the North-West Regional Assembly. It was subsequently tested in an examination in public between November 2006 and February 2007, and the report of the independent panel which conducted this examination was published in May 2007. The Secretary
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of State considered the recommendations of this independent panel, and took into account the representations made on the draft revision, and also changes in Government policy since the draft revision was submitted, before publishing proposed changes for further public consultation between March and May 2008.

The consultation period ended on 23 May. In total 1,836 representations were received from 149 people and organisations. All of these representations have been considered, along with updates to the “Habitat Regulations Assessment and Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment”. As a result a number of amendments and clarifications have been made to various parts of the plan.

Copies of the relevant documents will be available from 30 September in the Libraries of both Houses.



The Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne): The next roulement of UK forces in Iraq, known as Operation Telic 13, will take place from November. The Telic 13 force package will see the lead formation, currently 7 Armoured Brigade, replaced by 20 Armoured Brigade.

20 Armoured Brigade will take over the command of UK forces from early December and will provide the majority of the units serving in Iraq. The forces deploying include personnel from the following units:

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20th Armoured Brigade Headquarters and Signal Squadron (200)

The Queen’s Royal Hussars (The Queen’s Own and Royal Irish)

35 Engineer Regiment

1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (Queen’s and Royal Hampshires)

1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own)

5th Battalion The Rifles

1 Logistic Support Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps

110 Provost Company Royal Military Police

606 Tactical Air Control Party

618 Tactical Air Control Party

Elements of 1st Royal Tank Regiment

Elements of 5th Regiment Royal Artillery

Elements of 16th Regiment Royal Artillery

Elements of 26th Regiment Royal Artillery

Elements of 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery

Elements of 47th Regiment Royal Artillery

Elements of 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)

Elements of 42 Engineer Regiment (Geographical)

Elements of 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group

Elements of 2nd Signal Regiment

Elements of 10th Signal Regiment

Elements of 14th Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare)

Elements of 21st Signal Regiment (Air Support)

Elements of 1 Regiment Army Air Corps

Elements of 9 Regiment Army Air Corps

Elements of 6 Supply Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 9 Supply Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 17 Port and Maritime Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 24 Postal Courier and Movement Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 27 Transport Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 29 Postal Courier and Movement Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps

Elements of 1 Close Support Medical Regiment

Elements of 22 Field Hospital

Elements of 3 Close Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Elements of 101 Force Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Elements of 103 Military Working Dogs Support Unit

Elements of 1 Military Intelligence Brigade

Elements of 156 (North West) Transport Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps (Volunteer)

Elements of 148 Expeditionary Forces Squadron The Royal Logistic Corps (Volunteer)

Elements of 28 Squadron Royal Air Force

Elements of 78 Squadron Royal Air Force

Elements of Tactical Supply Wing

Elements of Joint Helicopter Support Unit

Members of the reserve forces will continue to deploy to Iraq as part of this force package, and we expect to issue around 175 call-out notices in order to fill some 150 posts during Telic 13. Prior to their deployment, and on completion of their mobilisation procedures, the reservists will undertake a period of training and integration with their respective units. For the majority, their deployment to theatre will commence in November and most will serve on operations for six to seven months, although some may have shorter tours. The reservists will predominantly reinforce regular units and will perform a wide range of activities including force protection duties, intelligence and logistic tasks. As part of this commitment, we expect up to 10 members of the sponsored reserves to be in the operational theatre at any one time.


Organ Donation

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): The Government response to the House of Lords European Union Committee report on increasing the supply of donor organs within the European Union (Cm 7466) has today been laid before Parliament. The response is in the Library and copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office.


Freedom of Information Act

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Mr. Michael Wills): Tomorrow I will deposit copies of “The Freedom of Information Act 2000—Statistics on Implementation in Central Government: Q2—April to June 2008” in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies will also be available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

This is the quarterly monitoring statistics report analysing the performance of central Government in the fourth full year of freedom of information.

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Suicide Act

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Maria Eagle): There has been growing concern in recent years about whether current law is adequate to deal with misuse of the internet to promote suicide and suicide methods. The Government share the concerns that have been expressed about such misuse, in particular about suicide websites and the influence they may have over vulnerable people, especially young people.

In response to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend (Mrs. Moon) on 11 March 2008, my right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice said that we were looking at this issue and would make an announcement as soon as possible, Official Report, column 141. The Government subsequently accepted in full the recommendations of the Byron review including that consideration should be given to whether the law in this area could usefully be clarified. This statement sets out our conclusions.

The law of suicide comprises two offences. The first is the offence under section 2 of the Suicide Act 1961 of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring a suicide or a suicide attempt; and the second is an offence under section 1(1) of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981 of attempting to aid, abet, counsel or procure a suicide or a suicide attempt. Actions to assist or attempt to assist suicide can be carried out on or offline.

The complexity of the law in this area stems from the unusual nature of the offence in section 2 of the Suicide Act which provides accessory liability in respect of something that is not of itself criminal. We believe that the law as it stands is capable of catching the sort of material that is causing concern and, more generally, the encouragement of suicide through the medium of the internet. But in practice the application of the law, particularly in terms of what constitutes an attempt to commit the section 2 offence is complicated. It is difficult both to understand and to explain.

Accordingly, we have concluded that the scope of the current law should not be extended but that the existing statutory language of section 2 of the Suicide Act should be simplified and modernised in a way that will make it clearer for everyone to understand. Simplifying and modernising the language of the law should provide reassurance that the law is capable of reflecting the new ways of communicating and accessing information. This approach also builds on a recommendation from the Law Commission that there is a strong case for updating the language of section 2.

We therefore intend to legislate to update the Suicide Act as soon as parliamentary time allows. And with the support of my hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe and Sale, East (Paul Goggins), Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office and the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety in the Northern Ireland Executive (Michael McGimpsey), the legislation will also include Northern Ireland. The updated legislation will comply, as does the existing law, with the requirements of the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002.

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Official Receptions

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jim Fitzpatrick): I have today published a list of receptions hosted by Department Transport Ministers in the 2007-08 financial year.

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The total cost of receptions held for the financial year 2007-08 was £408.10.

Official Receptions Hosted by Ministers at the Department for Transport

27 February 2008

Reception for Members of the Parking Working Group


Rosie Winterton

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