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To accompany the command paper the Ministry of Justice has today published a consultation paper Civil Law Reform-a draft Bill containing the draft Bill, the accompanying explanatory notes and the impact assessments relating to the reform. The consultation period will close on 9 February 2010.

FOI Quarterly Monitoring Statistics

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Mr. Michael Wills): Today I have deposited copies of "The Freedom of Information Act 2000 - Statistics on implementation in Central Government: Q3 - July - September 2009" in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are also available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

This is the quarterly monitoring statistics report analysing the performance of central Government in the fifth full year of freedom of information.

House of Lords (Commonwealth and Republic of Ireland Citizens)

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Mr. Michael Wills): My noble friend the Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice, has made the following written ministerial statement:

Leader of the House

Expedited Legislation (Explanatory Notes)

The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): On 7 July the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution published its report on "Fast-track Legislation: Constitutional Implications and Safeguards" (HL 116, 2008-09). The Government response was published on 7 December (HL 11, 2009-10).

The report recommended that, where the Government was proposing expedited legislation it should provide an explanation of why the legislation should be fast-tracked. The Government accept in principle the Committee's recommendation that, for all Bills which are to be passed with unusual expedition, an explanation of the reasons for using a fast-track procedure should be provided.

I am therefore informing the House that any future legislation which will be subject to expedited procedures will contain a full explanation in the accompanying explanatory notes to the legislation. The explanation will address the questions set out in paragraph 186 of the Committee's report:

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The Video Recordings Bill which has been introduced in this House today is the first Bill to be fast-tracked since the Committee published its report. The explanatory notes of this Bill reflect the new approach.

Parliamentary Pensions

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.

On 3 December I laid before Parliament amendments to the Parliamentary Pensions (Consolidation and Amendment) Regulations 1993. These amendments will bring in the cost-saving changes to the Parliamentary Pension Scheme which I announced in my statement of 31 March 2009 in accordance with the January 2008 recommendations of the Senior Salaries Review Body endorsed by the House on 24 January 2008. The package is judged by the Government Actuary to produce savings of 2.9 per cent. of payroll, which will reduce the Exchequer contribution to the scheme by approximately £1.4 million a year.

The House endorsed the cost-saving package on 25 June 2009 and also agreed that further changes should be brought forward to cap the Exchequer contribution for 2009-10 not at the 28.7 per cent. of payroll level recommended by the Senior Salaries Review Body, but at the lower 2008-9 level of 26.8 per cent.

At request of the Prime Minister, the Senior Salaries Review Body is currently undertaking a fundamental independent review of the Parliamentary pension arrangements. The Prime Minister has asked the Senior Salaries Review Body 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. The Senior Salaries Review Body aims to conclude its report by the end of the year. The Senior Salaries Review Body will take into account the cost-saving changes we have made, but its chairman has expressed concern that any proposals by the Government to make further such changes at this time could conflict with the Senior Salaries Review Body's recommendations and might appear to compromise its review. The Government's decision on any further proposals will be taken after the publication of the review. Where applicable, those proposals will be informed by the Senior Salaries Review Body's recommendations and will, in compliance with the House of Commons' resolution of 25 June, have the effect of freezing the Exchequer contribution for 2009-10 at the 2008-09 level as a percentage of payroll.

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Bus Service Operators Grant

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr. Sadiq Khan): My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has made the following ministerial statement:

EU Transport Council

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr. Sadiq Khan): I will attend the second Transport Council of the Swedish presidency which will take place in Brussels on 17 December.

The Council will be asked to reach a political agreement on a regulation on the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport, which also amends Regulation 2006/2004 on co-operation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws. While the scope of the regulation remains unresolved prior to the Transport Council, other key UK concerns with the
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original proposal have been addressed and the Government hope that a satisfactory political agreement can be reached.

The Council will be asked to reach a general approach on an amending regulation on structures for the management of the European satellite radio-navigation programmes. The Commission will also give a progress report on the Galileo programme. Regulation 683/2008 significantly changed the role of the Galileo Supervisory Authority (GSA). The amending regulation amends earlier legislation on the GSA to bring it all in line with the 2008 regulation. It changes the name of the body concerned to the European GNSS Agency and gives the European Commission more power in the administrative board. The UK is content that this is a sensible compromise. The UK has been a strong supporter of the need for a security accreditation body which can operate independently. We were also keen that, should the Accreditors take a decision which would significantly increase cost or introduce delay, the Commission cannot overrule them without going to the Council and the Parliament. It would be for Council to decide whether the risk of not doing what the Accreditors wanted was manageable. The Commission and member states have agreed with us that this is a sensible way forward.

There will be a progress report on a directive on the deployment of intelligent transport systems (ITS). My officials have been negotiating to secure amendments to the draft directive which better align it with UK interests. Good progress has been made on those areas of concern to the UK.

There will also be a progress report on a proposed directive on aviation security charges. The UK will work towards achieving a fair and proportionate outcome that balances the interests of passengers and airports.

The Council will be asked to reach a general approach on a directive on reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from EU ports. The UK supports this measure in principle as it should lead to a streamlining of administrative procedures to be followed by ships. It will be important to ensure that the implementation timetable allows member states sufficient time to adapt existing national systems to the new requirements.

The Council will be asked to adopt conclusions following on from the Commission's Communication "A sustainable future for transport: Towards an integrated, technology-led and user friendly system", which was debated by the Council in October. The UK believes the Council conclusions to be a good outcome. They provide the Commission with a clear and useful steer and I expect to be able to sign up to the conclusions at the Council.

The Council will be asked to adopt a decision, authorising the Commission to negotiate an agreement with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), providing a general framework for enhanced co-operation. The UK supports this proposal. There are significant gains to be had from closer co-operation between the Community and ICAO, notably in the field of aviation safety. The presidency has made clear that the draft mandate does not affect relations between individual member states and ICAO, nor does it affect the arrangements for preparing Community positions for meetings of the ICAO Council.

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