Previous Section Index Home Page

Local Government

The Minister for Local Government (John Healey): On 8 May 2008 we introduced through the Standards Committee (England) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/1085) the reformed conduct regime for local authority members, in which responsibility for standards of conduct and dealing with allegations of misconduct by members is largely devolved to each council’s independently chaired standards committee. In this regime the Standards Board for England has the role of a strategic regulator, and only the most serious cases of misconduct by members are to be investigated by the Standards Board and determined by case tribunals of the Adjudication Panel for England, established under the Local Government Act 2000.

Following extensive consultation, including with the Local Government Association, local authorities, practitioners, and the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council, I have today laid before the House the Case Tribunals (England) Regulations 2008, which complement the Standards Committee (England) Regulations 2008 and make provision about the sanctions available to a case tribunal of the Adjudication Panel.

18 Nov 2008 : Column 13WS

In particular, these regulations ensure that from 12 December 2008 case tribunals will have the power to censure a member, require them to apologise, attend training, or enter into a process of conciliation. These sanctions are currently available only to councils’ standards committees. Making these sanctions available to case tribunals will allow them to deal proportionately with, for example, a case which, although referred to the tribunal on the grounds that it is very serious, the tribunal concludes is a less serious matter.

The regulations also make provision about certain administrative procedures to be followed in relation to cases before the Adjudication Panel and its case tribunals.

These regulations will help ensure that the reformed conduct regime is fair, transparent and efficient.

We intend to complete the reformed conduct regime in January 2009 by making, following consultation, further regulations which will allow councils to establish joint standards committees, and to enable the Standards Board to suspend, in certain circumstances where the board considers this to be in the public interest, a council’s standards committee’s powers to deal with misconduct allegations.


In-patient Mental Health Care

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Kevan Jones): I wish to inform the House of the outcome of a competitive exercise for the provision of in-patient mental health care for our serving armed forces personnel.

The Ministry of Defence recognises mental illnesses as potentially serious and disabling conditions, but most can be successfully treated. Our mental health services are configured to provide community-based mental health care in line with the guidelines and standards set by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and the National Service Frameworks.

We do this primarily by supporting our GPs with specialist out-patient assessment and treatment at our military regional departments of community mental health centres sited in military bases. Care is provided by either military mental health care professionals or civilians employed by the MOD. This means that serving personnel usually remain with their units and receive out-patient care in a military environment.

In-patient care may be required in a small number of cases. Where this is necessary, it is provided regionally in specialised psychiatric units under a contractual arrangement. Since 2003 this contract has been with the Priory Group. The contract with the Priory Group has worked very well and was extended for two years. In line with our usual commercial practice a competitive tendering exercise has now been conducted in order to place a new contract. I am now in a position to announce the outcome of that competition.

The evaluation process produced a clear winner—we have awarded the contract to the South Staffordshire and Shropshire Foundation Trust who offered a powerful grouping of NHS providers to deliver a nationwide service.

18 Nov 2008 : Column 14WS

The South Staffordshire and Shropshire Foundation Trust proposal offers a bespoke admission and treatment service based upon the needs of the MOD and of the individual patient. They offer a single point of contact for admissions and access to a series of dedicated beds across the United Kingdom. South Staffordshire and Shropshire Foundation Trust describe their services as culturally sensitive and have proposed an in-patient care pathway that provides assessment and treatment in environments that would allow service patients to be accommodated in a separate area and be able to separate themselves from the civilian NHS population if they wished this and it was clinically appropriate. The South Staffordshire and Shropshire Foundation Trust’s philosophy and approach to in-patient care is consistent with that of the MOD and with generally accepted best practice; rapid assessment, stabilisation and return to care within the community as soon as possible.

The South Staffordshire and Shropshire Foundation Trust will provide locally based care through a network consisting of a group of five Foundation Trusts, one trust in the process of foundation trust application, and one NHS Scotland trust. These are: Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Grampian, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, Somerset Partnership NHS Trust, and Hampshire Partnership NHS Trust. All of the trusts selected are rated good or excellent for their quality of care in the Healthcare Commission’s recent Annual Health Check. The South Staffordshire and Shropshire Foundation Trust will act as the “network lead” and as such, will guarantee the quality and governance of the services provided. The foundation trust status of the winning bidder offers MOD access to services that are subject to unprecedented levels of corporate governance and are monitored by an independent regulator.

The MOD will work with the South Staffordshire and Shropshire Foundation Trust to implement a transition to the new contract that will cause minimal disruption to current and future patients. The Priory Group has agreed to extend the existing contract until the end of February 2009 to allow for a transition period.

When combined with care provided on operations by our deployed military mental health professionals, in military primary care and in military community mental health centres, I am confident that this contract represents a continuation of the combination of the best of external and internal providers to deliver mental health care to national standards of excellence.

Energy and Climate Change

Energy Supply Companies

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Edward Miliband): As I undertook to do in my statement to the House on 16 October 2008, Official Report, columns 935-937, yesterday I again met the main energy supply companies to discuss my concerns about a number of issues in the retail energy markets.

I reiterated my concerns about findings in the Ofgem report on the energy supply market, about the charges facing electricity-only customers and customers paying
18 Nov 2008 : Column 15WS
excessively high charges for their particular payment method. I made clear the importance the Government attaches to progress on these and other issues.

As part of the due process I referred to in my October statement, the companies have until 1 December to provide a formal response to the Ofgem findings. Ofgem will then come forward with its conclusions, including any proposed changes to licence conditions.

However, as promised in my statement, I stand ready to consult on legislation should there not be a speedy and satisfactory resolution to these issues.

At the meeting, I also highlighted the public’s concern about the current high level of retail prices. I impressed upon the companies the need for retail energy prices to reflect changes in wholesale prices as soon as possible. The Government and the industry are agreed on the need to bring down retail gas and electricity prices.

The meeting also recognised the need for very significant levels of investment in our energy infrastructure in the coming years.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Winter Supplementary Estimate

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Huw Irranca-Davies): Subject to parliamentary approval of any necessary supplementary estimate, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs DEL will be increased by £753,000 from £3,745,525,000 to £3,746,278,000 and the Administration budget will be increased by £463,000 from £356,000,000 to £356,463,000. Within the DEL change, the impact on resources and capital are as set out in the following table:

ChangeNew DEL








of which:

Administration Budget






Near-cash in RDEL
























* Depreciation, which forms part of resource DEL, is excluded from the total DEL since capital DEL includes capital spending and to include depreciation of those assets would lead to double counting.

The change in the resource element of the DEL arises from (i) a transfer of £360,000 administration spend from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform for the Office of Climate Change running costs; (ii) a transfer of £358,000 administration spend from the Cabinet for the legal services provided by the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office; (iii) a transfer of £915,000 to HM Treasury for sustainable procurement (£215,000 administration spend and £700,000 programme); (iv) a transfer of £40,000 programme spend to the Cabinet Office for the Government Security Zone; (v) a transfer of £16,000,000 of the departmental unallocated provision from resource to capital.

18 Nov 2008 : Column 16WS

The change in the capital element of the DEL arises from (i) a transfer of £16,000,000 of the departmental unallocated provision to capital from resource; (ii) a transfer of £1,000,000 from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform for the energy efficiency package; (iii) a transfer of £210,000 to the Department for Work and Pensions for the Machinery of Government transfer of the Pesticides Safety Directorate.

The change in the administration budget element of the DEL not explained above is due to a transfer of £40,000 from administration to programme in respect of the Government Security Zone transfer to the Cabinet Office.

The change in the depreciation budget is due to £200,000 transferring to the Department for Work and Pensions for the Machinery of Government transfer of the Pesticides Safety Directorate.

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn): The Minister for the Natural and Marine Environment, Wildlife and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies), and I will represent the United Kingdom at this month’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels. Richard Lochhead, Elin Jones and Conor Murphy will also attend.

There will be the usual approval of the list of ‘A’ points, followed by fisheries items. The Council is due to agree proposals and discuss the following:

On agriculture, the Council will be seeking political agreements on the CAP health check and school fruit scheme, and discussing a proposal authorising the placing on the market of genetically modified soya bean products.

The following issues will be raised under any other business:

18 Nov 2008 : Column 17WS


“High Quality Care for All”

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): “High Quality Care for All”, the final report of the NHS next stage review, set out the vision of an NHS in which quality is the organising principle for everything the service does. The chief executive of the NHS, David Nicholson CBE, the NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, and the chief nursing officer Dame Christine Beasley are today writing to every NHS organisation in England, asking them to start to take concrete steps to make this happen. The document they are sending to the NHS, “Measuring for Quality Improvement: the approach”, sets out clearly what local teams, NHS organisations—both providers and commissioners—and strategic health authorities will be asked to do to promote better measurement of quality to enable them to improve their services. It also describes the range of activities that the Department will undertake to support the NHS at local level.

The launch of “Measuring for Quality Improvement” marks both a key step towards realising the vision of “High Quality Care for All”, and the start of an important journey of improvement which will ultimately involve the entire NHS in England. A copy has been placed in the Library and copies are available for hon. Members from the Vote Office.

Northern Ireland

Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Shaun Woodward): Schedule 1 to the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 makes provision for the constitution of the four Boundary Commissions, including the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland. Under paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 each Commission must consist of a Chairman, Deputy Chairman and two other members appointed by the Secretary of State. Following the expiry of his previous term of appointment, I have reappointed Richard Mackenzie CB as a member of the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland for a further term of appointment to expire on 31 October 2012.

Next Section Index Home Page