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Written Ministerial Statements

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Business, Innovation and Skills

Copyright Strategy

The Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property (Mr. David Lammy): My right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State, Lord Mandelson, has made the following statement:

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ECOFIN (20 October 2009)

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Alistair Darling): The Economic and Financial Affairs Council was held in Luxembourg on 20 October 2009. The following items were discussed:

Preparation for the G20 finance ministers' meeting

Ministers received an update on process going forward to St. Andrews. The Council agreed a terms of reference on climate finance, exit strategies and the framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth which the Swedish presidency will take forward to the G20 meeting as the European contribution.

Preparation for the October European Council

a) Exit strategies

b) Financing of climate change

c) Financial supervision

The Government recognise the benefits of this new system, as set out by the June European Council, for Europe to improve regulatory and supervisory systems for the future and to provide a global lead on regulatory reform. The Government will work to ensure agreement by the end of the year.

European Systemic Risk Board

Ministers then discussed the draft regulation establishing a European systemic risk board (ESRB) and the draft Council decision entrusting the European Central Bank with specific tasks in relation to the ESRB. The UK maintained its Parliamentary scrutiny reserve on the proposals. The presidency concluded that there was broad agreement on the substance of the proposal of the regulation and would take further steps on the Council decision. ECOFIN will return to this in its meeting in December, when Ministers will also address the proposals for the new micro-supervisory structures.

Strengthening EU financial stability arrangements

ECOFIN agreed Council conclusions on the strengthening of EU arrangements to ensure financial stability and provide crisis management in the event of a future financial crisis. ECOFIN will consider this further in its meeting in December.

Taxation: Anti-fraud agreements with third countries

The Council discussed a draft anti-fraud agreement with Liechtenstein and a draft mandate for the Commission to open negotiations with Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Switzerland. The Council broadly agreed on the substance while noting political reservations by Austria and Luxembourg. Discussions will continue at working group level before coming back to ECOFIN in December.

Communities and Local Government

Local Spending Reports

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Barbara Follett): The Government have today published the summary of responses to the second phase of our consultation on local spending reports. The Sustainable Communities Act 2007 ("the Act") places a requirement on the Secretary of State to make arrangements for the production of local spending reports and to consult those likely to be affected before making them. The document has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and is available on the Communities and Local Government website at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/localgovernment/about/sustainablecommunitiesact

The aim of local spending reports is to assist local authorities, their partners and the community to promote the sustainability of local communities by providing more information about the public money that is spent in their area.

Considerable interest was shown by respondents in the potential that the mapping of local public spending offers in support of partnership working, the delivery of efficient and high quality local services and local transparency and accountability. We recognise the clear expectation of the majority of respondents that the
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local spending reports should, over time, include more information, from a wider range of public bodies. However, the responses to the consultation which dealt with the purpose and content of future reports did not provide a great deal of information on the likely costs and benefits of developing the reports and the precise way in which they could be used.

The Government remain committed to the provision of information on local spending although we must ensure this is useful, to local authorities, their partners and the community they serve and that the cost of producing this is justified by its benefit.

We, therefore, will be considering the findings of this phase of the consultation in more detail together with evidence from the Total Place initiative, Sir Tim Berners-Lee's work on how Government can use the internet to make non-personal public data as widely available as possible, and the responses to the Strengthening local democracy consultation. Once this is completed we will consult on the proposals that arise from the exercise, as required by section 6(10) of the Sustainable Communities Act 2007. We will report back to the House before the end of December 2009 on the next stages in developing local spending reports.

Energy and Climate Change

Sale of Nuclear Decommissioning Authority Land

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Mr. David Kidney): Today my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, Lord Hunt, made the following ministerial statement:

International Development

St. Helena

The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. Douglas Alexander): I announced on 16 March, Official Report, column 40WS, a public consultation on options for access to the island. The consultation has now been completed. A report summarising the responses
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that were received is now available on the Department for International Development website: http://www.dfid. gov.uk/.

We will consider carefully the views submitted in the consultation, taking into account the current economic conditions.


Crown Court Means-Testing

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): My noble Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Lord Bach, has made the following written ministerial statement:

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Correction to Written Answer

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Chris Mole): I regret to inform the House that some of the figures in the answer given to Parliamentary Question 276453 on 2 June, Official Report, column 298W, to the hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mrs. Villiers) about how much (a) the Department and (b) its agencies spent on car hire in each year since 2001 were incorrect.

When preparing an answer to a current question it has come to light that there are some discrepancies with the data submitted for the previous answer given due to two errors in the transposition of data. The Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA) has also provided data for the last three financial years, whereas none was given by them for the previous question. They advise that figures are now available following improvements in record keeping and their undertaking of a contract to maintain vehicles on behalf of the Olympic development authority has resulted in an increase in car hire.

The figures have been checked and the correct answer is below.



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