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It has been well publicised that the A400M transport aircraft, which will provide airlift support to operations, is proving to be a challenging programme, principally due to the technical complexity of this next generation military transport aircraft. Since 2008, MOD officials have worked tirelessly with the other partner nations, the Organisation for Joint Armaments Co-operation, and EADS/Airbus Military to find the best way forward for the UK. This process has involved difficult negotiations but I am pleased to announce today that the partner nations have reached an agreement with EADS/Airbus Military on a non-legally binding heads of terms agreement
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that will provide the basis for a formal contract amendment in the coming months. The in service date is now expected to be 2015, and it is our intention to see the A400M programme through to completion.

It was very clear from negotiations that the programme would only remain viable with further investment from the partner nations. The UK contribution to this further investment will be achieved by reducing the number of aircraft to be delivered to the RAF so that we remain within our existing cost envelope. We expect that the cost increases, which for the UK represents a maximum reduction of three aircraft from the originally contracted number of 25, may be recovered in the long-term through a levy on foreign export sales of the A400M.

I acknowledge that there have been significant programme delays, reflecting the complex technical challenges of this international project, and we may not receive the number of aircraft for which we originally contracted. Nevertheless, we will deliver the capability required and are greatly encouraged that a prototype A400M aircraft has now flown, with flight trials continuing. This, coupled with recent changes in governance structures that have led to greater transparency, means that the MOD has grounds for greater confidence in the A400M programme. The proposed way forward has been subject to rigorous internal scrutiny, and I am satisfied that the proposed heads of terms agreement is underpinned by a sound evidential base.

As a result, I am confident that the A400M will remain value for money for the taxpayer, and will still deliver an outstanding capability for the RAF. The A400M programme will also sustain up to 8,000 British jobs, including cutting-edge wing design work.

As a result of the measures I announced to the House in December, and despite the delay to the A400M programme, we expect to be able to meet the airlift requirements for current operations after the C130K goes out of service in 2012. We are bolstering our strategic lift capability by the procurement of a seventh C-17, which will enter service with the RAF in March 2011. We are also maximising tactical airlift capability by investing in a package of enhancement measures to maximise the use of the existing fleet of 24 Hercules C-130J. The completion of a second runway at Bastion, Helmand, in 2010 will also allow us to reduce tactical airlift tasking in theatre. Through these investments, the Department believes it can sustain anticipated intra-theatre airlift tasking on current operations until A400M comes into service.

Finally, on 30 November 2009, the Minister responsible for defence equipment and support, announced the beginning of formal trade unions' consultation on the future of defence support group's (DSG) Large Aircraft Business Unit (LABU) at St. Athan, south Wales, designed to achieve closure of the facility by June 2013 at the latest.

Once depth maintenance on the VC10 ends in 2013 there will be no requirement to maintain RAF aircraft at St. Athan. The management of the DSG, the Government and the Government of Wales have explored exhaustively the prospects for replacing the contract with other work but no such opportunity has been identified. Therefore, our priority is to ensure that the redundancy and retraining schemes available to the workforce fully reflect our appreciation of the loyal,
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reliable and very skilled work that employees of St. Athan have delivered for the benefit of the RAF and the country.

We have written to the trade unions concluding the consultation process and setting out the redundancy terms that will give the workforce the opportunity to apply for redundancy on the current conditions available for compulsory redundancy.

MOD will continue to work with other Government Departments and agencies to explore future job opportunities for DSG employees who will be affected by the drawdown and closure of the facility. The option of retraining and transferring LABU personnel to other DSG sites will be maximised where this meets business needs and individuals' preferences. And DSG will work closely with external training providers and agencies such as Careers Wales, Jobcentre Plus and other advisory organisations to explore alternative training and job opportunities for any employees wanting to retrain for an alternative career.

I pay tribute to the outstanding service of DSG St. Athan personnel, both past and present, in supporting the UK armed forces with the vital equipment needed on critical operations both at home and overseas.

The series of announcements I have made underline this Government's commitment to provide our armed forces with the equipment and support they need.

The decisions we have taken will introduce new and enhanced capability that is required now and in the coming years, and support, not-prejudge, future decisions in the forthcoming SDR.

United Kingdom Hydrographic Office and DSTL (Targets 2010-11)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Kevan Jones): The following key targets have been agreed with the chief executives of the UK Hydrographic Office and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) for the FY2010-11.

UK Hydrographic Office

KT1: Safety

While aiming for 100, to achieve a safety index of 95 or higher.

KT2: Defence

To deliver the defence hydrographic programme achieving an index rating of 95 or higher while transitioning to a multi-year service definition annex incorporating incentivised pricing.

KT3: Finance

To achieve a return on capital employed of 9 per cent. on a three-year rolling basis.

KT4: Organisational Excellence

To demonstrate an improvement year-on-year across 10 measures of excellence while also achieving at least 75 out of 100.

KT5: Improving Business Efficiency and deliver Value for Money

To achieve at least 50 out of 70 against seven targets which together reflect a measure of efficiency improvements and value for money.

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KT1: Quality

Deliver high quality outputs from Dstl-led projects that are assessed externally as impacting on customers' priority issues, including the research and development (R&D) board's priorities.

KT2: Timeliness and customer satisfaction

Deliver at least 90 per cent. of all Dstl-led projects that complete in the financial year 2010-11 to time and to budget, and achieve at least 93 per cent. of customer feedback responses at a score of seven or above for overall satisfaction.

KT3: Capability

Dstl will sustain and develop its technical capability, independently assessing 10 capability groups chosen by the R&D board where Dstl needs to lead thinking either now or in the future. No more than three of these will be assessed as "development needed".

KT4: Business Performance

To maintain strong business performance through:

KT5: Sustainability

Embed sustainability into Dstl's business ethics by achieving and, where these have already been met, exceeding government sustainable operations targets by:

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Climate Change

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and I wish to inform the House that plans will be published on Wednesday 31 March by all major Government Departments to show how they are taking forward action on climate change.

The carbon reduction delivery and adaptation plans set out how Government Departments will work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their own estates and operations, and in the sectors that they can influence. They also show how Departments will cope with the impacts of climate change that we expect to face, including by improving awareness, capacity and skills within Government to respond effectively to a changing climate.

These documents are being published alongside a single overview "Climate Change: Taking Action-Delivering the Low Carbon Transition Plan and preparing for a changing climate". This provides a view of progress across Government and identifies some of the main
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climate challenges that Departments are working together to address-through delivery of their departmental carbon budgets and adapting to a changing climate in their planning and decision making.

I will place copies of "Climate Change: Taking Action-Delivering the Low Carbon Transition Plan and preparing for a changing climate" in the Libraries of both Houses on Wednesday.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Westminster Foundation for Democracy (2009-10 Review)

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband): I would like to inform the House that the recent FCO-commissioned independent review of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy is complete. I have placed copies of the review in the Libraries of both Houses and it is also available on the WFD website.

The Westminster Foundation for Democracy is a unique organisation that carries out important work to support democracy worldwide. The FCO places great value on its work.

The objective of the review was to assess the Foundation's performance and its value for money. The review found that the WFD is well positioned to make a contribution internationally. It was broadly positive about the WFD's work with parties and Parliaments overseas. The WFD was found to be valued by both participants and beneficiaries. The FCO will continue to work closely with the WFD to ensure that the review's recommendations are implemented.


Social Care Reform Grant

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Phil Hope): The Department has today issued a local authority circular detailing the funding allocations for the Social Care Reform Grant.

This is the final year of the £520 million Social Care Reform Grant which is ring-fenced to be used by local authorities to assist them with their partners in delivering the transformation of adult social care, as set out in "Putting People First: a shared vision and commitment to the transformation of Adult Social Care".

In the first two years of the Social Care Reform Grant, significant progress has been made to deliver this transformation but this circular details what councils will need to do in the final year of funding.

In September 2009 the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Local Government Association with the Department of Health agreed a set of milestones focusing on five areas of priority to help councils be clear about what good progress implementing
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"Putting People First" looks like and to prioritise their use of the final year of the reform grant. These priorities are:

The final year of revenue money (£237 million) has been ring-fenced by the Department, so that it should be used for supporting the process of transformation. In addition, non ring-fenced capital moneys have also been allocated this year. This includes:

This year's funding should enable local authorities to deliver the transformation envisaged in "Putting People First".

Home Department

Police Pursuits

The Minister for Policing, Crime and Counter-Terrorism (Mr. David Hanson): I have launched today a public consultation on the management of police pursuits. To promote the efficiency and effectiveness generally of the police, section 39A of the Police Act 1996 empowers me to issue to chief officers of police codes of practice relating to the discharge of their functions.

The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) will be leading a 12-week public consultation on the draft of a code of practice on the management of police pursuits. The draft has been produced following detailed discussions involving the Home Office (HO), the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), NPIA and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). We have also consulted the Department for Transport, the Superintendents' Association, the Police Federation, Health and Safety Executive and the Scottish and Welsh Assembly Governments.

Police on-road pursuits typically involve around 35-40 fatalities a year. Not all of these involve the pursuit car. However, both ACPO and the HO agree with the IPCC that we need to ensure we have done all we can to ensure public safety in the process of preventing crime. I want to reduce the risk of casualties to the minimum and ensure that pursuits are undertaken as safely as possible, and only when a necessary and proportionate means of preventing crime and apprehending offenders. I want to ensure public confidence in the management of pursuits.

In 2007, the IPCC published research on police pursuits. Its recommendations included the updating, development and codification of existing ACPO guidance on pursuit management. ACPO prepared new guidance
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and recommended to Ministers that it should be issued as a statutory code. The Police Act requires chief officers to have regard to such a code. Its issue would therefore ensure more consistent good practice.

Ministers agreed the ACPO recommendation. To help achieve earlier benefits from the guidance and speedier implementation of the code, a Home Office circular was issued last July to all police forces. This announced the planned development of a statutory code based on the guidance and HO and ACPO agreement that all forces should work towards full compliance with that guidance.

The draft code clearly sets out over-arching requirements and principles, including the need to comply with the detailed ACPO operational guidance. The guidance will remain a separate document, subject to updating and amendment as necessary. Code and guidance together will reduce the risks of death and serious injury, enhance public confidence in pursuit management and promote the safe prevention of crime and apprehension of offenders.

Following the consultation, we will consider the responses and feed these into a final draft. The Act requires me to lay before Parliament the code as finally issued. I intend to do this before the end of the year.

NPIA is sending the draft code direct to the police and other key parties and it is available for public comment on the NPIA and HO websites. Copies are also available from the Vote Office and in the House Library.

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