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Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 14 July 2009


2009-10 Tax and Benefit Reference Manual

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Stephen Timms): Copies of the 2009-10 edition of the "Tax Benefit Reference Manual" (TBRM) are today being deposited in the House of Commons Library.

HM Treasury publishes the TBRM annually. It is a technical manual detailing the tax and benefit system, describing both the current and historic regimes.

Business, Innovation and Skills

Intellectual Property Office (Performance Targets)

The Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property (Mr. David Lammy): I have tasked the Intellectual Property Office with managing and shaping an Intellectual Property system which encourages innovation and creativity, balances the needs of rights holders and the public, provides support to businesses on managing and exploiting their Intellectual Property, and stimulates economic growth.

I have set the Intellectual Property Office a broad range of targets for 2009-10 based on a balanced scorecard approach. These targets are:

Customers and Stakeholders

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Finance and Resources

Internal Processes

Change and Development

Communities and Local Government


The Minister for Housing (John Healey): The Government will publish the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan shortly. This will set out the UK's approach to becoming a sustainable-advanced low-carbon country, which means cutting our emissions, securing our energy supplies, maximising economic opportunities and protecting the most vulnerable. The new development consent regime for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) provided for by the Planning Act 2008 is central to delivering the development needed to meet these objectives. Today I can confirm that the new regime will be put in place starting from 1 October with the establishment of the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC).

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Earlier this year we made a commitment to listen to the views of promoters and others on the best way to implement the new regime and to provide further detail on both implementation of the regime and production of national policy statements (NPSs). The consistent message that has emerged from this is the need for certainty and predictability. People want clarity about when the new regime will consider applications from each sector and an adequate lead-in period between setting up the IPC and commencing the regime.

Therefore, I am today announcing more detail on how we propose to implement the new regime.

First, I can confirm that we will establish the IPC from 1 October, from which date it will begin providing advice and guidance on preparing applications, and on how the new regime will work. I can also confirm that the IPC will start accepting applications for development consent and examining these applications from 1 March 2010, when we intend to commence the new regime for NSIPs from the energy and transport sectors. Our intention is to then bring waste water and hazardous waste sectors on line in April 2011, and the water supply sector in April 2012. Setting firm implementation dates now will ensure that promoters and other stakeholders will be able to engage with the IPC with confidence.

Secondly, I am proposing to appoint Dr. Pauleen Lane CBE and Robert Upton CBE as deputy chairs of the IPC. These appointments, which are subject to pre-appointment scrutiny by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, will enable the IPC to be ready to open for business on 1 October. I will also be appointing three commissioners to the IPC later this month.

Finally, I am publishing the third and final package of secondary legislation needed to establish the IPC. This sets out the detailed procedures and rules which we intend to put in place to govern the IPC examination of applications. We will make these regulations in good time to come into force by 1 March 2010.

Once NPSs are designated the IPC will decide applications for development consent in accordance with them. However, the IPC will be able to start receiving applications from the energy and transport sectors from 1 March 2010, irrespective of whether the relevant NPS has been designated. If for any reason the relevant NPS has not been designated when a particular application reaches the decision stage, the IPC would make a recommendation to the relevant Secretary of State, who would then take the decision. In this situation, the Planning Act allows the Secretary of State a maximum of three months to make the decision, unless exceptional circumstances apply. Our intention is to keep any recommending period to a minimum. Where a relevant NPS has been published in draft it would be a consideration for the IPC when making its report and recommendation to Ministers.

I can also update the House on our latest intentions for publishing draft NPSs. The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, which we are publishing shortly, brings together a range of important policy developments including the renewable energy strategy and proposals for regulating new coal power stations, and has significant implications for energy and transport policy which it is vital the NPSs fully reflect. Because of this, our intention is now to publish NPSs covering the following types of infrastructure in the autumn: nuclear power; renewable energy; electricity networks; fossil fuel generation; oil
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and gas infrastructure; ports; and road and rail networks. Subject to the outcome of public consultation and parliamentary scrutiny, we expect these NPSs to be designated over the course of next year.

The remaining four NPSs are being produced on a longer timeframe. We expect to consult on the Waste Water NPSs in spring 2010 and the Hazardous Waste NPS in summer 2010, with the aim of designating them in 2011. We intend to consult on the Airports NPS by 2011 with a view to designating it later that year. Finally we hope to consult on the Water Supply NPS in late 2010-once the final Water Resource Management Plans are published, which are needed to inform the NPS-with the aim of designating that NPS by early 2012.

In parallel with making this statement, I am publishing a revised version of the IPC Implementation "Route Map" which sets out our plans in more detail, as well as providing an update on progress to date. I am placing copies of this in the Library of the House.

The new regime which we are establishing will enable decisions about nationally significant infrastructure to be taken in a way that is fairer and faster. This is vital to our economic, environmental and social wellbeing, including meeting the challenge of climate change, strengthening the voice of communities and individuals, and creating the conditions for future economic success.


NATO Planning Questionnaire (Group Response)

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Bob Ainsworth): Today I have released to the EU the UK's response to the NATO 2008 defence planning questionnaire. This questionnaire contains information on our forces and capabilities which we, and all other NATO partners, send to NATO on a biannual basis as part of their force planning process. NATO uses this information to understand what capabilities allies would in principle make available for NATO operations and to inform the planning process.

NATO and the EU operate separate force planning and capability development processes and until now the UK has made different offers of capability to the EU and to NATO. For NATO we offer a large scale force package while we offer a medium scale force package to the EU, which reflects the lower level of strategic ambition within the European security and Defence policy framework. However, following the precedent set by a number of other NATO partners we have decided to submit our NATO defence planning questionnaire responses as the single source of UK information for both the NATO and EU capability planning processes. Respecting the autonomous decision-making processes of both organisations and noting that our single set of capabilities is available for the UN, EU as well as NATO and potentially other multilateral coalition operations, we judge it to be more efficient to maintain one set of information on our forces and capabilities and to provide it in the same format to NATO and the EU. Using the same set of information on nation's capabilities will, in concurrency terms, assist both organisations in identifying and understanding the shortfalls that exist across both organisations and in taking remedial action to address those shortfalls without duplication of effort. Sending the UK defence planning questionnaire
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to the EU will also provide momentum to the drive for greater harmonisation between the NATO and EU planning processes, a longstanding UK aspiration which other nations support. We further hope that by taking this step it will encourage other European allies to follow suit.

It remains the case that, in respect of any multinational operation, our forces are made available on a case-by-case basis following a national decision. Releasing the UK defence planning questionnaire to the EU does not therefore mean that we are increasing our level of commitment to any current or future EU operation.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Animal Health Annual Report

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Jim Fitzpatrick): The "2008-09 Annual Report and Accounts for Animal Health" will be laid before Parliament today.

Home Department

Newspapers (Surveillance Methods/Update)

The Minister for Policing, Crime and Counter-Terrorism (Mr. David Hanson): In response to the urgent question on 9 July 2009, Official Report, column 1131 by the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Dr.Harris), I undertook to report back to the House at an appropriate time.

Since that urgent question was answered, Assistant Commissioner John Yates has made a public statement on 9 July about the original inquiry by the Metropolitan Police Service into the alleged unlawful tapping of mobile phones by Mr. Clive Goodman and Mr. Glen Mulcaire. I am placing the text of Assistant Commissioner Yate's statement in the Library of the House.

He has concluded that as no additional evidence has come to light in respect of the Goodman/Mulcaire case and as the Metropolitan Police Service has not formally received allegations in relation to the activities of any other journalists there is no need for a further investigation.

The Metropolitan Police has also confirmed that it does not consider that there is anything else substantive in relation to additional evidence or information that would justify it re-opening the original investigation. Neither has The Guardian approached the MPS with any new additional evidence.

As mentioned in his statement on 9 July, Assistant Commissioner John Yates is ensuring that the Metropolitan Police Service has been diligent, reasonable and sensible, and taken all proper steps to ensure that where it has evidence that people have been the subject of any form of phone tapping (by Mr. Clive Goodman or Mr. Glen Mulcaire) or that there is any suspicion that they might have been; that they have been informed. The decision to inform individuals that they have been targeted for illegal interception of their phone communications is an operational matter for the police.

Following his statement, and in view of comments that he had made in both Houses following last week's newspaper articles, the director general of the Crime and Policing Group in the Home Office wrote seeking
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clarification on some issues to Assistant Commissioner John Yates on 10 July who responded the same day. I am placing copies of that correspondence in the Library of the House.

The Director of Public Prosecutions announced on 9 July an urgent examination of the material supplied by the police three years ago to satisfy himself and assure the public that the appropriate actions were taken in relation to that material. That review continues.

The Information Commissioner's Office will consider what action to take if evidence emerges of breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has received a complaint from the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Chris Huhne) about police action in this case and are currently considering whether there are any issues raised which might fall within its remit.

Any new evidence should be referred to the police or to the Information Commissioner if it relates to a data protection breach.

The Government will report back to the House when there are any substantive developments.

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