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Improving delivery was at the heart of all discussions, with governance issues-the need for institutional and policy reforms, local government strengthening, improved implementation capacity and reduced corruption-and climate change featuring prominently. The importance of regional links in power, trade, transport and communications, and the need to create a better investment
climate in Bangladesh was emphasised. The Finance Minister reaffirmed the Government's determination to increase domestic revenue mobilisation and improve budget implementation.
Commitments were captured in a "BDF agreed action plan", outlining 25 concrete actions for Government to be supported by development partners. The potential for increased transparency and aid effectiveness was boosted by the Government's endorsement of the joint co-operation strategy, produced collectively by 32 development partners operational in Bangladesh and centred around the Paris declaration on aid effectiveness and Accra agenda for action.
The themes emerging from the BDF endorsed the direction the UK's country plan for Bangladesh (2009-2014) is already taking, with our development efforts focused on building effective Government systems and strengthening the political system; improving the delivery of services; working with the private sector to create jobs; and helping the country live with climate change. Future programme direction and ongoing implementation of the existing portfolio will be guided by the BDF outcomes and framed by the joint co-operation strategy.
The Government of Bangladesh used the event to dismiss reports-in the UK and Bangladesh-of a dispute over climate change funding. The Government confirmed their desire to establish a climate change multi-donor trust fund, with grant funding committed from the UK, the European Union and Denmark. The fund will by led by the Government with the World Bank providing technical back-stopping and fiduciary management.
As co-chair of the Local Consultative Group, which represents development partners in Bangladesh, the UK played a central strategic role in preparing for the forum and steering the event. We will continue to work closely with the Government of Bangladesh to ensure that the next steps outlined in the action plan are implemented.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Claire Ward): Today I have laid before Parliament the Government response to the report of the Inquiry into the death of Bernard Lodge, who died at HMP Manchester on 28 August 1998. I published the report of the inquiry on 15 December 2009.
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr. Sadiq Khan): The Department has published today a revised version of its best practice guidance for taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing authorities.
The key aim of the guidance is to ensure that the decisions which licensing authorities make deliver a good and safe service to the public having taken account of all the factors involved, including, for example, the effect on the supply of taxis and PHVs of unnecessary rules and restrictions.
Publication of guidance was initially recommended by the Office of Fair Trading in the context of their market study in 2003. The first guidance was published in 2006. This revised version takes account of comments received as part of a consultation exercise in 2009.
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr. Sadiq Khan): I am announcing today the Government's plans for a new urban challenge fund designed to support local authorities in delivering economic growth and improving the health and environment for local communities in urban areas
The Prime Minister's strategy unit report on urban transport and the DFT response "The Future of Urban Transport", published in November 2009, identified a range of transport challenges faced by our cities. It estimated the cost of congestion, in delays and unreliability suffered by road users, to be of the order of £12 billion a year. The PMSU report also indicated that the measurable costs to society of poor air quality, inactivity leading to obesity, and road accidents in urban areas, are each similar to those of congestion. The evidence from the PMSU report is that initiatives geared to tackling the various challenges simultaneously better would achieve "triple win" outcomes in terms of economic growth, improvements to health, and improvement to the urban environment. This new fund will support forward-looking cities and local authorities in delivering these outcomes.
enhanced mobility, through offering people wider choices for their journeys;
reduced congestion and increased journey time reliability;
better health as a result of improved safety and much greater levels of walking and cycling;
streets and public spaces which are enjoyable places to be, where exposure to harmful emissions is reduced, and where quality of life is transformed:
improved safety; and
reduced level of carbon emission from transport.
The fund will support packages of measures designed to deliver all of these benefits. The packages are likely to include a combination of sustainable travel measures, investment to encourage modal shift and better bus services alongside demand management measures, better and city-wide traffic management and improved street design. Acting together, these measures will deliver a step change in the local economy, the health of urban residents and the environment they enjoy.
The new fund will replace the transport innovation fund. Work by a number of authorities showed that a combination of measures was necessary to tackle the problem of congestion and could deliver wider benefits to local communities, the urban economy and environment. TIF also encouraged new thinking in a number of areas,
for example on a phased and incremental approach to demand management. Its weaknesses lay in its too narrow a focus on the issue of congestion, the failure to win public acceptance for the more challenging proposals, and inability to transform governance at the same time as delivering radical change. The new fund will draw on the lessons from TIF and the new ideas that have come forward.
Sustainable travel measures will be a key component of the packages supported by the new fund. The sustainable travel towns initiative has shown that small-scale, relatively inexpensive measures can deliver significant reductions in car trips, increases in bus use, walking and cycling and consequential improvements in health. In order to achieve best value from available resources, the sustainable travel programme for cities will be absorbed into the urban challenge fund. While there will be no separate fund for cities, we would expect these sorts of measures to form part of a wider package of interventions, and deliver even greater benefits than those already achieved through the sustainable travel towns initiative.
The Department will be considering the future of our current congestion performance fund and targets with a view to ensuring there is an integrated approach to addressing all of the challenges in urban areas.
I am publishing today also a discussion paper inviting comments on the new urban challenge fund. Copies of the discussion paper are being placed in the House Libraries and will also be available on the Department for Transport's website.
The Minister for Pensions and the Ageing Society (Angela Eagle): Today is another important milestone for the delivery of workplace pension reform. The Personal Accounts Delivery Authority (PADA) has completed its procurement for the scheme administration services for NEST, and will award that contract to Tata Consultancy Services Limited (TCS) later today. PADA plans to sign the contract with TCS later this month.
The 10-year contract has two stages. The first stage runs to October 2010, and enables TCS to begin the activity required to set up and administer NEST. A further decision will be made by October on whether to proceed with the second stage contract for the remainder of the contract term. The contract also includes possible extensions for up to a further five years.
NEST is a critical part of the Government's pension reforms and, as one of the pension schemes employers will be able to use to fulfil their automatic enrolment duties, will play a major role in supporting low to moderate earners in saving for their retirement.
PADA's priority has been to secure value for money for future NEST members. I am satisfied this contract achieves that objective, and we remain on track to deliver the reform package from October 2012.