The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Mr. Michael Wills): The Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), which the UK ratified in December 2003, requires states party to establish a national preventative mechanism to carry out a system of regular visits to places of detention in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
OPCAT provides that a national preventative mechanism may consist of one body or several. The Government intend that the requirements of OPCAT be fulfilled in the UK by the collective action of existing inspection bodies.
I am designating the following bodies to form the UK NPM. If it is necessary in future to add new inspection bodies to the NPM, or if bodies within the NPM are restructured or renamed, I will notify Parliament accordingly.
Her Majestys Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP)
Independent Monitoring Boards (IMB)
Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA)
Her Majestys Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC)
Care Quality Commission (CQC)
Healthcare Inspectorate of Wales (HIW)
Childrens Commissioner for England (CCE)
Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW)
Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED)
Her Majestys Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland (HMIPS)
Her Majestys Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland (HMICS)
Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC)
Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (MWCS)
The Care Commission (CC)
Independent Monitoring Boards (1MB)
Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJINI)
Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA)
Northern Ireland Policing Board Independent Custody Visiting Scheme (NIPBICVS)
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) supports the Public Guardian in discharging his statutory duties under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
Register and return 95 per cent. of applications for registration of attorneyship (LPA/EPA) within eleven weeks of receipt, improving performance to achieve 80 per cent. within eight weeks by the end of the financial year. This measure excludes applications that cannot be registered; for example where an objection is received prior to registration, or where the application is flawed and cannot be corrected. For the purposes of measurement, 11 weeks and eight weeks will be calculated on the basis of 55 and 40 working days respectively. The KPI has been simplified this year to amalgamate the registration and return processes in one target. It has been necessary to review the overall target because of the unexpectedly high volumes of applications received.
All deputyship cases require the allocation of a supervision regime based on risk assessment. Risk criteria include: whether a deputy has been refused credit or is an un-discharged bankrupt; whether a deputy has any financial interests which conflict with those of the client; the value of the clients estate; the relationship of the deputy to the client and any objections which were made to the appointment of the deputy.
A new supervision level of deputies has been introduced following the review of the implementation of the MCA. The four supervision levels are: close supervision; intermediate; light touch and minimal.
Some 10,000 cases that require intermediate and light touch supervision will be subject to a case review during 2009-10 under KPI 3. Last year the target was to review 4,000 cases of this type. This years target will be stretching for the organisation but is achievable.
Upon receipt of an investigations case in the compliance and regulation unit it is allocated to a specific caseworker. At this point of allocation, the two-day target to assess risk begins. The three-month target to complete the investigation is inclusive of the two days in which the risk assessment and initial action are put in place.
a) We will assess risk in 95 per cent. of cases within two days.
b) 75 per cent. of investigations will be completed within three months.
The total cost of carrying out the provision of services to the taxpayer, less social subsidy/fee remission; financial losses over and above a yearly notional premium; in-year bad debts write-off and exceptional items.
Copies of the Office of the Public Guardian Framework Document and Business Plan will be available in the Libraries of both Houses and from the website of the OPG (www.publicguardian.gov.uk) from 31 March 2009.
The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): The Government are committed to providing public service pension schemes that are affordable and sustainable in the long term, consistent with the principle of fairness for all taxpayers and between generations.
The Parliamentary and other Pensions Act 1987 requires the Government Actuary to make triennial reports on the financial position of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF). His latest report, dealing with the position of the fund as at 1 April 2008, is published today and a copy of the report Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund Valuation as at 1 April 2008: Report by the Government Actuary [HC345] has been laid before the House. It includes his recommendation on the Exchequer contribution to be made to the fund, which the Act requires the Government to follow.
The House resolved on 24 January 2008 to endorse in principle recommendations contained in the report of the Review Body on Senior Salaries (SSRB) on parliamentary pay, pensions and allowances (Cm 7270-I) which capped the Exchequer contribution to the cost of accrual of benefits for MPs and advised that there should be a major review of the fund should it become likely that the Exchequer contribution rises to more than 20 per cent. of payroll. Both of these recommendations exclude payments to amortise the accumulated deficit identified in the 2005 valuation of the fund.
Following a warning from the Government Actuary that the Exchequer contribution was likely to rise beyond 20 per cent. of payroll, in line with the recommendation made by the SSRB and endorsed by the House, the Prime Minister on 13 February 2009 asked the SSRB to conduct a fundamental review of the pension provision for MPs, Ministers and other parliamentary office holders. The Prime Minister has asked the SSRB to consider the full range of options for reducing the Exchequer contribution and to consider, among other things, the merits of defined contribution or money purchase arrangements. We expect the SSRB to report later this year.
In the report published today, the Government Actuary has assessed that, since the last actuarial valuation in 2005, the underlying cost of benefits accruing under the
parliamentary pension scheme has increased from 27.4 per cent. of the pensionable payroll of scheme members to 32.2 per cent. The main reason for the increase in cost is the fact that people are living longer, and pensions are therefore payable for longer. In common with the approach taken in many other pension schemes, the Government Actuary has changed his assumptions about how long people will live in the future. The Government Actuary has also assessed that the deficit in the fund (that is, the shortfall of assets to the estimated value of liabilities) and the contributions to amortise the deficit (that is, contributions to pay off the deficit over a period of 15 years) remain broadly the same as at the last valuation. Better investment returns and lower salary growth during the period 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2008 than had been assumed have been offset by the fact that the Government Actuary has assumed that people will live longer in the future. As a result, the deficit has increased from £49.5 million to £50.9 million.
The Government Actuary has recommended that the Exchequer contribution should be at the rate of 31.6 per cent. of payroll from 1 April 2009 adjusted to take account of any increase in members contributions and/or benefit reductions which the Government announce as a consequence of cost-sharing or cost-capping.
There are different ways in which the Exchequer contribution as recommended by the SSRB and endorsed by the House could be restricted. We shall be consulting the Trustees of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund and the House of Commons on proposed changes.
The Governments preferred option to achieve the cap on the Exchequer contribution includes an increase in member contribution rates from 10 to 11.9 per cent. of salary (for an accrual rate of 1/40th), and from 6 to 7.9 per cent. (for 1/50th). This would mean that an MP on the 1/40th accrual rate would pay a net increase of around £60 per month on top of the current contribution of £316 per month. This means that the total annual contribution based on 2009-10 salary would be around £4,625. A member on the lower accrual rate would also pay a net additional contribution of around £60 per month. In addition we intend further to extend the cap on MPs accrual, which is set at two thirds of final salary, to include MPs over age 65 who joined the scheme before 1 June 1989. Both changes would need to be backdated to 1 April 2009. Taken together these measures would mean that the Exchequer contribution remained within the cap recommended by the SSRB and endorsed by the House.
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Paul Goggins): During consideration of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 (Renewal of Temporary Provisions) Order 2007 the Government undertook to return to the House on an annual basis and report on progress towards our target of 30 per cent. Catholic composition within regular officers in the police service of Northern Ireland.
Since the introduction of the temporary provisions in 2001 tremendous progress has been made towards a more representative police service and our ultimate goal of 30 per cent. Catholic composition. The Catholic composition of police officers has increased from just
8.3 per cent. at the time of the Patten report to 26.14 per cent. as of 12 March 2009. The number of Catholic applications to the PSNI has also risen significantly, with 42 per cent. of applicants in the last campaign being from the Catholic community. This is against 23.33 per cent. Catholic applications in the last campaign before the introduction of the temporary provisions.
In the 14 competitions run to date over 88,000 applications have been received from across the whole community. This figure reflects the fact that many people are ready to commit to a career in PSNI. The 15th recruitment campaign opened on 5 March and we are confident that it will again produce recruits of the highest calibre from across all sections of the community.
Female composition within PSNI has almost doubled, from 12 per cent. in 2001 to 23.43 per cent. today and there are currently 31 officers from an ethnic minority background including Pakistani, Black Caribbean, Chinese and Indian. The ethnic minority figures remain small in actual numbers but the 0.42 per cent. compares to the 0.67 per cent. composition of the ethnic minority working age population. A series of initiatives have been introduced to further increase the ethnic minority composition.
Catholic representation among civilian staff also continues to rise. The percentage of Catholic police support staff has increased from 12 per cent. at the time of the Patten report to 17.66 per cent. on 1 March 2009.
As set out in the St Andrews Agreement, the temporary 50:50 recruitment arrangements to the PSNI will lapse when the Governments target of 30 per cent. Catholic officers has been achieved. We are on course to reach this target by 2010-11.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Gordon Brown): The 31st Report of the Review Body on Senior Salaries is being published today. In addition the Government intend to reform civil service severance and early retirement terms.
The Government are determined to reduce the costs of the civil service. Having achieved 86,700 workforce reductions and £26.5 billion of efficiency savings as part of the Gershon efficiency programme, the Government are going further to ensure that resources are focused on improving key front line public services. As well as delivering £35 billion of Value for Money gains by 2010-11 the Government will bear down on the cost of running Government, with -5 per cent. reductions in real terms in the cost of running Government in each of the next three years. Over the next few years the Government will continue to ensure that value for money is driven throughout all aspects of the public sector to support our drive to continue to improve key public services.
The Government therefore intend fundamentally to reform the severance and early retirement terms for all civil servants in order to control costs. The current arrangements have been in place since 1987 and are inflexible and expensive. The new terms require departments to reduce costs and will improve accountability and value for money for the taxpayer, saving up to £500 million over the next three years.
The report of the senior salaries review body makes recommendations about the pay of the senior civil service (SCS), senior military personnel, the judiciary and very senior NHS managers. Copies have been laid in the Vote Office and the Library of the House. I am grateful to the chairman and members of the review body for their work.
The Government have decided to accept some but not all of its recommendations. It is important in the present economic climate that senior staff in the public sector show leadership in the exercise of pay restraint.
The Government have decided that base pay and the minima and maxima of each pay band will increase by 1.5 per cent. It has accepted the recommendation of no increase to the size of the non-consolidated performance-related pay pot. Permanent secretaries have already announced that they will forego such payments in 2009.
The review body has recommended that the X-factor (a supplement to base pay in recognition of the differences between military and civilian life) should be paid at a rate of 25 per cent. of the full cash value to 2- and 3-star officers and that an appropriate differential should be re-established between 1- and 2-star medical and dental officers.