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On underperforming hospitals-asking the council's scrutiny committee to investigate concerns on issues like poor hygiene-the committee has powers to review services, request information from NHS bodies, and make urgent recommendations; work with local involvement networks, which have powers to carry out spot checks and seek information and responses from health service providers.
In order to avoid confusion and duplication with existing statutory arrangements for citizens to express their views, the Local Authorities (Petitions) (England) Order 2010 excludes petitions on planning decisions and on licensing decisions on alcohol, gambling or sex establishments, from the scope of the petitions duty. However, any broader issues around the delivery of services in these areas remain within scope (for example, the effectiveness of an authority's process for dealing with planning applications). It also excludes issues relating to the dealings of individuals or entities, where there is already a statutory right to a review or appeal (other than the right to complain to the local government ombudsman). The order stipulates the maximum threshold which local authorities can set for a petition to trigger a full council debate at 5 per cent. of the local population.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. Ian Austin): I am publishing today a paper "Park Homes Site Licensing Reforms: The Way Forward and Next Steps" which sets out the Government's proposals for the reform of licensing of park home sites in light of the responses received to the May 2009 consultation paper, "Park Home Site licensing-Improving the Management of Park Home Sites". Copies will be placed in the Library of the House.
The Government want a thriving and well-run sector that provides sites where people want to live. We want a licensing system that raises and maintains standards on sites and protects residents by ensuring sites are safe, well planned and properly managed with appropriate facilities and services
The paper announces that the Government are committed to introducing a number of key reforms to the current site licensing regime, including a requirement that persons engaged in the management of park home sites are "fit and proper" and only such persons may hold licences. The new system will give local authorities duties to impose management conditions in licences and provides a range of enforcement tools to ensure that site licensing conditions are complied with. Measures will be required to be put in place for alternative management arrangements where sites are not able to be licensed. The new scheme will also allow licensing authorities to recover their costs in connection with
their duties under the provisions by charging appropriate fees. A new regime for appealing licensing decisions to the residential property tribunal will be introduced.
The Government intend to establish a task force, including representatives of local authorities, the industry and residents to advise and recommend how some of the key elements of licensing may be most effectively implemented with minimum burdens.
The Government's proposals are intended to drive up standards in this sector (where that proves necessary) and where that is not possible, to remove the ability of those unscrupulous and incompetent site owners from continuing to manage park home sites.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. John Denham): I am publishing a consultation paper today, 30 March, on the arrangements for the production of the second local spending report. The aim of the local spending reports is to assist local authorities, their partners and local people in promoting the sustainability of local communities by providing more information about the public funding that is spent in their area. The Act requires me to make arrangements for the production of local spending reports and to consult such persons likely to be affected by the arrangements, as I think appropriate. This consultation document places work to develop local spending reports in the broader context of our efforts to make public data public. This approach was summarised in the report to Parliament "Making local public expenditure data public and the development of Local Spending Reports" in December 2009.
The document will be placed in the Library of the House and will be available on the Communities and Local Government website at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/consultationsecondspendrpt.
We have presented also the first local spending report on the Places database today at http://www.local pending.communities.gov.uk/ and are seeking views on this as part of the consultation process. This will provide intuitive, user-friendly tools to explore, compare and contrast data via interactive maps, charts and tables. These online tools will be freely and publicly available, thereby ensuring that these local spending data are available not only to local authorities and their strategic partners but also to citizens in a consistent form.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Kevan Jones):
The Government committed to implementing in full all the recommendations arising from the review of the armed forces compensation scheme when it was published on 10 February 2010.
As the review acknowledged, considerable detailed work is required to translate the review's high-level recommendations into legislation. An important first step is the formation of the proposed independent medical expert group, which I am establishing on an interim basis today in order to meet the time scales envisaged by the review. The terms of reference, structure and membership of this interim medical expert group, which will advise on armed forces compensation, is set out below:
The interim independent medical group is established as a result of the AFCS review (Cm 7798) published 10 February 2010. Its role, primarily, is to advise on the appropriate levels of compensation for all the specific injuries, illnesses and diseases highlighted in the AFCS review as being areas of concern, in time to be included in the consultation in autumn 2010 leading to the legislation planned for early 2011 to implement the review.
a. provide initial advice on the list of recognised diseases that, on the balance of probabilities, are predominantly caused by service in the armed forces since 6 April 2005:
b. provide initial advice on those injuries, illnesses or diseases that might be made worse by service during the first six months of service that are currently excluded from the scheme. This advice will need to distinguish between those injuries, illnesses or diseases that might simply be triggered by service, but are not caused by service (perhaps such as asthma, which might only become apparent during initial training):
c. advise on the definitive structure and membership of the group, beyond the transitional group which would only be in existence for around 12 months:
d. advise on any other medical matters in relation to the armed forces compensation schemes that the Minister for veterans requests it to provide.
The chairman and expert members of this interim group will comprise senior licensed consultants drawn from the relevant specialties, including: trauma/orthopaedics, neurology, ear/nose/throat, occupational medicine, and mental health. The MOD's senior medical adviser to the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (personnel) will also be a member of the group. Three lay members will also be appointed to the group: one from service/ex-service organisations on the statutorily established Central Advisory Committee on Pensions and Compensation (CAC), one from the in-service representatives on the CAC, and an injured serving person who has claimed under the scheme. The group will be able to draw on other expert advice where required.
The chairman of the group will be a member of the CAC that advises the Minister for veterans, and the chairman would present the advice of the group to the Minister as a member of the CAC. The advice and the Government's decisions in relation to it would be published together at the same time on the MOD's website.
The group itself will not be expected to create its advice from first principles. Instead, the MOD would investigate issues and draw up evidence-based proposals for the group to consider and either validate or advise, support or challenge in the same way that the MOD conducted the work of the AFCS review and used the independent scrutiny group to validate this work. The MOD will provide secretariat support to the group.
The group will meet as and when required, perhaps four to six times during its existence. Between meetings business will be conducted via correspondence. Some meetings may be conducted virtually via video or telephone conferencing.
The chairman and members of this interim independent medical group to advise on armed forces compensation will be appointed until February 2011. The roles will not be remunerated, but the MOD will reimburse reasonable travel and subsistence expenses. The chairman and members will be expected to follow the seven principles of public life enunciated by the Nolan committee.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Quentin Davies):
The Government have accepted the findings of the review board for Government contracts as detailed in their report of the 2010 general review of the profit formula for non-competitive Government contracts. The board's recommendations will be
implemented in accordance with arrangements subsequently agreed with the industry side and recorded in an addendum to the published report. I will be placing a copy of the report in the Library of the House. The recommendations will be implemented for new non-competitive work with effect from 1 April 2010.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn): I am today publishing "Adapting to Coastal Change: Developing a Policy Framework", which takes forward some of the ideas on supporting community adaptation to coastal change that we consulted on last summer. The work of the coastal change pathfinders that I announced on 1 December 2009 is part of this work.
"Adapting to Coastal Change: Developing a Policy Framework" sets out ideas and guidance on how communities can plan for coastal change as well as looking at what managing change might mean for business, local infrastructure and our historic and natural environment. In doing so, it draws on examples of best practice, including the pathfinders which are looking at new approaches. It also confirms the introduction of a new coastal erosion assistance grant. This is a fixed grant of £6,000 available to local authorities to help homeowners with the costs of demolishing a home at risk of loss to coastal erosion and some basic moving costs.
"Adapting to Coastal Change", together with a report summarising responses to last summer's coastal change policy consultation and new guidance on community adaptation planning and engagement, will be published on the DEFRA website today.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn): I wish to announce that for 2009-10 DEFRA will switch £25 million available near-cash resource DEL budget to cover a forecast deficit against its capital DEL control total, in accordance with HM Treasury's consolidated budgetary guidance. Although the financial outturn for the year is not final, the current assessment of the required switch is £25 million. The movement in spend from near-cash resource DEL to capital DEL is in respect of flood defences where the exact nature and classification of the expenditure is determined by the Environment Agency, as they undertake the work.
|(1)The total of 'Administration budget' and 'Near-cash in Resource DEL' figures may well be greater than total resource DEL. due to the definitions overlapping.|
(2)Capital DEL includes items treated as resource in Estimates and accounts but which are treated as Capital DEL in budgets.
(3)Depreciation, which forms part of resource DEL, is excluded from total DEL since capital DEL includes capital spending and to include depreciation of those assets would lead to double counting.
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