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more choice for patients-giving them the right to register with a GP wherever they choose, a guarantee of seeing a doctor in the evenings and weekends in every area, and more access to services-like chemotherapy and dialysis-at home or in the community;
dedicated carers for patients with cancer or serious long-term conditions who can benefit from a more personal approach to nursing. We expect all parts of the NHS to review continually the way long-term conditions are managed and to seek out and adopt best practice. Where appropriate this should include the
provision of personalised one-to-one support by a health professional, particularly for the more complex conditions. We will consider and cost the possibility of a patient entitlement in this area. This will benefit millions of people;
new rights to high quality care-including the right for patients to die at home. Enshrining the right to a "good death" is the mark of a civilised health system. The NHS will ensure a dying patient can choose where they wish to spend their final days;
more freedom for hospitals. The best NHS foundation trusts will be free to work across a wider area. We will encourage high-performing foundation trusts based in one area to provide both acute and community services in other areas, if the PCTs in those areas want to commission from them; and
greater emphasis on prevention-we want the NHS to intervene earlier and prevent more disease. We will provide access to personal care plans and health-checks for anyone suffering with a long-term condition. Patients will be invited to discuss and agree their care plan with their clinician, giving them a greater say in their care.
Under this plan services will be reshaped around the needs of patients more radically than ever before. The NHS and its staff will need to adapt as they strive to make the changes necessary, but they will be supported in doing so. The results will be better patient safety, better health outcomes, more satisfied patients-and, ultimately, a stronger NHS.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Alan Johnson): The Government have no higher duty than to protect the public. A critical tool in this is the warranted interception of communications that allows law enforcement and intelligence agencies to gather intelligence about those individuals who seek to do us harm.
Intercept material obtained under a RIPA warrant cannot currently be used as evidence in criminal trials. It has been, and remains, the Government's objective to find a way to make this possible. In February 2008, the Prime Minister accepted the findings of a Privy Council review, chaired by Sir John Chilcot, which recommended that intercept should be admissible as evidence subject to meeting nine operational requirements, which the review judged to be necessary to protect the public and national security. He set in train the necessary implementation process and established an advisory group, comprising the right hon. Sir John Chilcot, the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith), the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard), and my right hon. And noble Friend Lord Archer of Sandwell, in order to help safeguard intelligence capability and protect the public.
In my written ministerial statement to the House of 16 July I provided an update on the progress of the implementation programme. I said that I would make a formal report to Parliament on the results and conclusions after end of the summer recess.
I am today publishing a Command Paper setting out the work programme's findings and conclusions. Copies will be available in the Vote Office. I am also placing in the Libraries of both Houses copies of a separate report to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister by the advisory group. The Prime Minister and I are grateful to the advisory group for its work. I echo their recognition
both of the complexity and sensitivity of the work programme and the commitment and thoroughness of officials in undertaking it.
Any implementation of intercept as evidence must, as set out in the original Privy Council review, ensure that trials continue to be fair and that the operational requirements to protect current capabilities are met. As noted in the advisory group's interim report to the Prime Minister, reported in my predecessor's written ministerial statement of 12 February and placed in the Libraries of both Houses, there is an intrinsic tension between these legal and operational requirements.
The work programme set out to develop a model for intercept as evidence that successfully reconciled these requirements, based on the approach recommended by the Privy Council review. This model has been subject to extensive practical testing, with the close involvement of senior independent legal practitioners. This testing has demonstrated that the model, if fully funded, would be broadly consistent with the operational requirements. However, it would not be legally viable, in that it would not ensure continued fairness at court. This has been confirmed by a recent European Court of Human Rights case (Natunen v Finland). The result would be to damage rather than enhance our ability to bring terrorists and other serious criminals to justice.
These findings are disappointing. In the light of them, the Government conclude, as does the advisory group, that the model does not represent a viable basis for implementation. However, the Government also share the advisory group's view that the potential gains from a workable intercept as evidence regime justifies further work. We therefore welcome the group's suggestion of three areas of analysis, beyond the scope of the original work programme, intended to establish whether the problems identified are capable of being resolved. These areas are to examine:
Further enhancing the judicial oversight available.
Full retention of intercept material alongside alternative review requirements.
Advances in technology which might make full retention and review more manageable.
The Government agree with the advisory group that while continuing to seek innovative and imaginative approaches, these should not be at the cost of the operational requirements, and hence national security or public protection. I am grateful for the advisory group's agreement to continue in its current invaluable role and for agreeing to be similarly engaged on interception related matters that have arisen in the context of the Coroners and Justice Bill.
The Government will report the results of this activity to Parliament before the Easter recess.
The Minister for Borders and Immigration (Mr. Phil Woolas): A revised version of the framework agreement for the UK Border Agency is being published today. The framework has been updated following the passage of the Borders Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009. The new document reflects, in particular, the transfer of customs functions and staff to the Home Office from HM Revenue and Customs. Copies are available in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): I have today given the Information Commissioner a certificate under section 53 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ('the Act'). The certificate relates to case FS50100665 from 23 June 2009 in which, in my opinion, the Information Commissioner wrongly found that the Cabinet Office had failed to comply with section 1(1 )(b) of the Act by withholding copies of the minutes of the Cabinet Ministerial Committee on Devolution to Scotland and Wales and the English Regions (DSWR) of 1997. The consequence of my giving the Information Commissioner a certificate is that the Commissioner's decision notice ceases to have effect.
A copy of the certificate has therefore been laid before each House of Parliament. I have additionally placed a copy of the certificate and a detailed statement of the reasons for my decision in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.
This is only the second time this power (the 'veto') has been exercised since the Act came into force in 2005 and over that period of time central Government have received approximately 160,000 non-routine requests for information. The decision to exercise the veto in this case was not taken lightly but in accordance with the statement of Government policy(1) on the use of the executive override as it relates to information falling within the scope of section 35(1) of the Act.
In accordance with the policy, my conclusion rests on an assessment of the public interest in disclosure and non-disclosure of these Cabinet minutes, and of the exceptional nature of the case. While the convention of collective Cabinet responsibility is only one part of the public interest test, in my view disclosure of the information in this case would put the convention at serious risk of harm. As an integral part of our system of Government the maintenance of the convention is strongly in the public interest and must be given appropriate weight when deciding where the balance of the public interest lies.
Having done that, and having taken into account all of the circumstances of this case, I have concluded that the public interest falls in favour of non-disclosure and that this is an exceptional case where release would be damaging to the convention of collective responsibility and detrimental to the effective operation of Cabinet Government. Consequently, this case warrants the exercise of the veto.
(1) Annexed to 'Statement of Reasons' at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/news/announcement240209a.htm
The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): The Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) published its report on MPs' expenses and allowances on 4 November. The Government are grateful to the Committee for its work and welcome the Committee's recommendations.
The House has sought clarification on the question of what further legislation the Government will bring forward in the light of the CSPL's recommendations, which I set out in this statement today. The House will wish to be aware that in preparing this statement the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice has had constructive discussions with both Sir Christopher Kelly, Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, and Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, Chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. I am pleased, on behalf of both the Lord Chancellor and myself, to be able to report to the House that both Sir Christopher and Sir Ian are in agreement with the proposed approach to further legislation and on the amendments set out below.
Many of the CSPL recommendations relate to the substance of a new parliamentary allowances scheme. Others, however, relate to the scope and functions of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), now being set up under the provisions of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 which passed into law earlier this year.
Those substantive recommendations of the CSPL report that relate to the drawing up of the allowances scheme are , of course, under the provisions of the Act, now a matter for consideration by and decision of the new independent authority. The IPSA will shortly be conducting its statutory consultation on a proposed new allowances scheme. Its chair has already made clear that the CSPL recommendations will be central to this consultation.
In relation to the recommendations identified as requiring legislation, the Government's proposals are as follows:
Power to make deductions from resettlement grant
"where an MP is found to have seriously abused the expenses system or otherwise seriously breached the code of conduct, the Standards and Privileges Committee should always consider recommending that the House reduce or remove the resettlement grant from that MP as part of any sanctions to be imposed and should be prepared to do this for past as well as for future breaches of the rules. The new statutory scheme should empower the House of Commons to impose such a sanction by resolution".
The Parliamentary Standards Act already provides that the IPSA's power to pay MPs' salaries is subject to anything done in exercise of the disciplinary powers of the House. This enables the IPSA, for example, to give effect to a resolution of the House following an S&P recommendation that an MP should lose salary for a specified time. The Government will bring forward legislation to make the same provision in relation to allowances (including resettlement grant).
Statutory duty of efficiency, cost-effectiveness and openness
"the independent regulator should have a statutory duty to support MPs efficiently, cost-effectively and transparently in carrying out their parliamentary functions"
IPSA itself is already under a duty to carry out its functions efficiently and cost effectively and is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The Government will also bring forward legislation to ensure that there is specific reference to supporting MPs to carry out their
parliamentary duties in an efficient, cost-effective and transparent way. (See also response to recommendations 49 and 60).
Register of Financial Interests and Code of Conduct
"responsibility for maintaining the register of financial interests and the associated code of conduct should be removed from the independent regulator and returned to the House of Commons"
The Government propose to repeal section 8 of the 2009 Act and the consequential references to it.
"the independent determination of MPs' pay and pensions should be entrenched in primary legislation in the same way as expenses. The independent regulator should therefore be given statutory responsibility for setting MPs' pay levels and overseeing MPs' pensions as well as for dealing with expenses"
Provision for pay to be included in the IPSA's remit was in an early pre-introduction version of the Parliamentary Standards Bill but was removed after representations made in the intensive cross-party talks.
Now there is a clear consensus that IPSA should take on responsibility for pay and pensions, the Government will bring forward legislation to give IPSA the power to set, as well as to administer, the MPs' pay system, after consulting the Senior Salaries Review Body. The powers for both pay and pensions would therefore take effect in 2011-12. MPs' pay in 2011-12 would then be set by the IPSA on the basis of the SSRB recommendation for that year. Pay in 2012-13 and subsequently would be set by the IPSA following consultation with the SSRB and others as appropriate.
Breaches of the rules on expenses
"responsibility for investigating allegations about breaches of the rules on expenses should be vested in the independent regulator, which should be able to appoint its own compliance officer for this purpose. The compliance officer should be able to conduct an investigation on his or her own initiative, at the request of the independent regulator, or in response to a complaint from a member of the public or an MP"
Provision for the IPSA to appoint an officer responsible for investigations and compliance, who would act at arm's length from the other functions of the IPSA, was included by the Government in the original draft of the Parliamentary Standards Bill but was amended after strong representations from the Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee. As there is now clear consensus on this, the Government propose to amend the Parliamentary Standards Act to provide for a compliance officer to be appointed by the IPSA through a process of fair and open competition. The compliance officer will be an independent office holder. The powers of the compliance officer to investigate complaints will be similar to those presently vested in the Independent Commissioner. The powers in relation to sanctions will be significantly different (see below).
Enforcement powers of the IPSA
"that the independent regulator's enforcement regime should be strengthened by giving it the power to:
Compel MPs to cooperate with the new body, including through the provision of relevant information.
Require the repayment of wrongly paid or misclaimed sums, with associated costs if appropriate.
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