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Afghanistan Country Plan

The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Douglas Alexander): Afghanistan and Pakistan are of critical strategic importance to the UK. Helping both countries to ensure their own security, stability, growth and development is vital both for the Afghan and Pakistani people and for our own national security.

In January 2006 we signed a 10-year development partnership agreement with the Government of Afghanistan. I am today announcing our new four-year country plan, at a moment when we so urgently need a renewed effort from across the international community. The plan explains how we will support the Afghan Government in achieving its goals under the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), which was launched at the Paris Conference in June 2008.

DFID’s support to Afghanistan is part of the wider UK Government strategy for the region set out by the Prime Minister. Our programme fits alongside the work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, forming a comprehensive effort to help strengthen state institutions, counter the threat of violent extremism, and pursue sustainable economic growth across the region. Over the same 2009 to 2013 period, we have pledged already to spend £665 million helping the Pakistani Government to achieve its vision of becoming a stable, economically and socially developed country.

Our Afghanistan country plan focuses on four areas where we are best placed to provide support under the ANDS: building an effective state; encouraging economic growth; providing alternatives to poppy growing; and promoting stability and development in Helmand. We will maintain our humanitarian support, primarily through UN agencies. We will strengthen our focus on gender, by building partnerships within the Government of Afghanistan and with other donors—particularly multilateral institutions—to increase their contribution to addressing gender inequality.

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The commitment I am making today, of £510 million over the next four years, confirms us as the second largest bilateral donor in Afghanistan. We will continue to spend at least 50 per cent. of our assistance through Afghan Government systems: as well as ensuring value for money for the UK, this is the best way to improve Afghan capacity to govern, and to strengthen the connection between the citizen and the state. We are asking other donors to do the same in order to strengthen Afghan capacity through coordinated and transparent planning.


"Engaging Communities in Criminal Justice"

The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, my right hon. and noble Friend the Attorney-General and I are today announcing the publication of “Engaging Communities in Criminal Justice” (Cm 7583), a consultation document which has been laid before Parliament. We are also announcing the publication of the associated consultation-stage “Impact Assessment”, which has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies of both documents are available from the Vote Office, and the Printed Paper Office. Both documents will be available from the CJS Online website at: and on the web sites of the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Attorney-General’s Office.

Significant reform of the criminal justice system in England and Wales has already been delivered but there is more to be done. “Engaging Communities in Criminal Justice” sets out and invites views on the Government’s proposals for further improvements to the design and delivery of local criminal justice services. It represents the next stage in the Government’s programme for a criminal justice service that is effective, delivers justice for all, has the interests of victims and witnesses at its heart and which inspires the trust and confidence of the people it serves.

The proposals are part of a consultation and are centred on three areas: strengthening the connections between communities and their prosecution and court services; ensuring that justice outcomes are more responsive and more visible and improving communication between local people and their criminal justice services. The proposals are designed to better open up the whole justice system to communities so that services are more transparent, responsive and more accountable to local people. The Government believe that a number of measures likely to be of direct benefit to local communities could be established more quickly in a number of areas. We are therefore establishing 30 pioneer areas across England and Wales which will implement a package of measures during 2009.

The consultation-stage “Impact Assessment” sets out such evidence as is currently available in relation to the Government’s proposals. It contains estimates of the actual or potential costs of the proposals and an assessment of the potential operational impact on criminal justice services and other local delivery partners, including those in the third sector. The final “Impact Assessment” will be revised and updated in light of information received during the consultation and any further available
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evidence from pathfinder and pilot projects. It will then be published alongside the summary of consultation responses and the Government’s proposed next steps.

The Government will undertake a full equality impact assessment of the proposals in this consultation document. This will help to identify and enable the Government to reduce any unintended negative impact on individuals and particular segments of the community. The final equality impact assessment will be published.

The consultation period starts today and will close on Friday 31 July 2009. Responses to the consultation can be made using the on-line response facility at:, via email to: or by post to the address indicated in the consultation document.


Travel Plans

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Paul Clark): My right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Housing and Planning and I are today publishing “Delivering Travel Plans through the Planning Process—Good Practice Guidelines”. This document supersedes our previous guidelines “Using the planning process to secure travel plans: Best practice guidance for local authorities, developers and occupiers” which were published in July 2002

Travel plans have been used successfully for many years, whether secured through planning of developments or prepared on a voluntary basis. They are an important tool for promoting sustainable travel, such us walking, cycling, and public transport. They help to reduce single occupancy car use, carbon emissions and congestion.

The documents contain suggested good practice guidelines and are recommendations only. There are no additions or changes to Government policy or law; instead there are helpful suggestions and case studies in the new documents which will make travel planning more effective.

Copies of the new guidelines and a summary will be available on the Department for Transport, and Communities and Local Government’s websites ( and, the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.

Statutory Senior Traffic Commissioner

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jim Fitzpatrick): The Government are today publishing their consultation on draft guidance from the Secretary of State to the statutory senior traffic commissioner as part of their implementation of the Local Transport Act 2008.

The guidance represents an important opportunity for the Secretary of State to express formal and public views on how the powers of the statutory senior traffic commissioner might be exercised—particularly to benefit the industries that the traffic commissioners regulate.

The consultation exercise seeks views on the content of the proposed guidance. The consultation runs until
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21 July and the final guidance will be issued as soon as possible thereafter. The Government expect the senior traffic commissioner to respond formally to the guidance, seeking views via a separate public consultation exercise.

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Copies of the consultation will be available on the Department for Transport’s website at http://www.dft., and are available in the Libraries of both Houses.

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