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Lord Chancellor and the Law Commission

The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Mr. Jack Straw): I am very pleased to announce that the Chairman of the Law Commission and I have agreed a statutory protocol governing how Government Departments and the Law Commission should work together on law reform projects. The protocol is key to ensuring a more productive working relationship between the Law Commission and Whitehall. The protocol has been laid before Parliament today.

The Law Commission Act 2009, which amends the Law Commissions Act 1965 to provide for the statutory protocol, also introduces a duty on the Lord Chancellor to report annually to Parliament on the extent to which Law Commission proposals have been implemented by the Government. The protocol is intended to improve the rates of implementation of Law Commission reports and its success in this respect will be highlighted in the annual reporting to Parliament.


Written Answer (Correction)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Chris Mole): I regret to inform the House that the answer I gave on 11 March 2010 to parliamentary question 318998, Official Report, c. 410-411W, about how many thefts from this Department have been recorded in the last two years was incorrect.

The Department has checked the figures and the answer should read:

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EU Directive on Driving Licences

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Paul Clark): The Department for Transport has published today a response to the public consultation which closed 5 February 2010. It outlines our proposals for implementing the third EU directive on driving licences (directive 2006/126/EC), adopted in December 2006.

Most features of the directive must be transposed into national law by mid-January 2011 and come into practical effect by mid-January 2013. Implementing regulations will be laid before Parliament in order to transpose the directive into law in Great Britain by the due date of January 2011. Separate arrangements apply in Northern Ireland, where driver licensing is a devolved matter.

After considering carefully views expressed by respondents, we intend to maintain the approach of making as little change to our current arrangements as is consistent with the directive and, where change is unavoidable, making it at least cost. Changes include:

We have decided not to introduce a training route to progressing through the motorcycle categories or, for car drivers, to towing a medium-sized trailer. Although a training route was supported by many respondents, some did not consider that in the current economic downturn the proposals were financially viable. This is also our assessment.

Many respondents opposed our proposals that riders should first take a familiarisation course on a more powerful category of motorcycle before being able to ride that category with a provisional licence before taking their test. They argued instead that riders wishing to ride category A2 or A motorcycles, who have not yet qualified for a full licence for the larger category, should be accompanied by an authorised trainer (AT) when riding on the roads. We agree with this argument and have amended our proposals accordingly.

Copies of the response report are available on the DFT website at and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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Transport Security

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Paul Clark): My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Department for Transport has made the following ministerial statement:

Work and Pensions

Employment Support

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Yvette Cooper): Today, I am publishing "Building bridges to work: new approaches to tackling long-term worklessness", which sets out the next steps of welfare reform and will ensure no one is left to a life on benefits.

Historically too many people who were out of work were written off. In the 1980s and early 1990s long-term worklessness soared. We have had to deal with that legacy. Since 1997 worklessness has fallen, the number of people on working age inactive benefits has fallen by 300,000 and the action we have taken has prevented a big increase in inactivity during this recession.

Today we are going further. In "Building bridges to work: new approaches to tackling long-term worklessness" we set how we will support the long-term workless back into work, and support disabled people and those with health conditions who are at risk of long-term unemployment and worklessness to make sure no one gets left behind in the recovery. We will do this by introducing more individualised help alongside stronger personalised conditions, including extra support for people who are newly assessed as fit for work but may have spent a number of years on an incapacity benefit.

For those who are doing their bit but still struggling to get a job, the Government will step in and do their bit too. For jobseekers who do not find work after two years we will guarantee them employment or work placements and for people on employment and support
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allowance who do not find work after two years, we will provide a guaranteed place on our specialist disability employment programme-Work Choice.

I am also today publishing the Government's response to the Social Security Advisory Committee's consultation on the Employment and Support Allowance (Transitional Provisions, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit) (Existing Awards) Regulations and laying these regulations before Parliament.

Over the next three years health care professionals will assess current incapacity benefits claimants, looking at what they can do, as well as what they cannot, using the work capability assessment to move them to our more active welfare regimes, culminating in the abolition of old style incapacity benefits by April 2014.

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To ensure people are directed to the right support to get into work we will amend the work capability assessment and our proposals for the revised assessment are also published today.

The revised assessment will for example take better account of an individual's ability to adapt to their condition and introduce improved assessment of fluctuating conditions.

These proposals involve a radical change in the way we use our resources to support people at risk of long-term worklessness-providing more personalised help and conditions coupled with guarantees to prevent those who are able to work from spending a lifetime on benefits.

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