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The previous Major Schemes Guidance for Local Authorities is today being replaced with new interim Guidance to Local Authorities, which has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and will be available on the Department for Transport website ( today. Officials will also be writing to affected local authorities.

The Government will aim to provide a firm indication on the way forward later this year once the spending review is complete.

Marine Aids to Navigation

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mike Penning): I wish to inform the House that following the publication of the consultants' report entitled "Assessment of the provision of marine aids to navigation around the United Kingdom and Ireland" in March
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2010 (Official Report, 10 Mar 2010 Column 19WS), I am inviting interested parties to provide me with their views on the recommendations.

The report has over fifty recommendations which would require action by the Governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland or by the general lighthouse authorities (GLAs) of both countries. Some of them are self-evidently sensible and straightforward to implement. The GLAs are already doing so in a number of cases. Others would be more challenging and take longer.

I intend to give everyone with an interest a further opportunity to make their views known and I will take account of any opinions that are expressed before reaching conclusions on how the recommendations should be implemented.

Key recommendations in the report include:

I should like to invite comments on these and any other findings of the report by 15 July 2010 before coming to any conclusions. I then intend to publish decisions on what action needs to be taken and, if necessary, to consult further on specific proposals.

The report has been posted on the Department's website ( and copies are available in the Libraries of both Houses.

Work and Pensions

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Chris Grayling): The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council was held on 7 June 2010 in Luxembourg. I represented the United Kingdom.

The main item of the agenda was a policy debate on the employment and social inclusion aspects of Europe 2020, the new European agenda for the next ten years; and in particular, the employment guidelines and social inclusion target. The general approach on employment guidelines was agreed, but I abstained for the UK, explaining that a final Government position had not yet been reached. The poverty target and three indicators of material deprivation, jobless households and relative income were also agreed. I intervened to state that the UK was content for the poverty target to be forwarded to the June European Council but emphasised that a final view on EU2020 as a whole had not yet been taken, and tabled a minute statement to this effect.

Political agreement was reached on a proposal for a Council regulation extending the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 and Regulation (EC) No [...] to nationals of third countries who are not already covered by these provisions solely on the ground of their nationality. The UK is not opted in to this regulation.

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The Council also reached political agreement on a proposal for a Council decision on the position to be taken by the Community within the Association Councils established by the agreements with Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Israel. The UK is not opted in to these agreements. I intervened to state that the text of the decisions went beyond what had originally been agreed, and stressed that social security is principally a national competence rather than an EU competence.

Four sets of Council conclusions (on adequate pensions and social inclusion; new skills for new jobs; advancing Roma inclusion; and active ageing) and a Council resolution on a new European disability framework were adopted.

There was a progress report on the proposal for a Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment (anti-discrimination) between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

Under any other business, there was information from the presidency on the equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity. The Italians also raised, as an information point, their ideas on simplifying the delivery rules of the European social fund (ESF), to be discussed fully at a conference later this month. Finally, there was information on conferences held under Spanish presidency and a presentation from the incoming Belgian presidency.

Work Programme

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Chris Grayling): The Government have previously announced their plans for radical reforms of the welfare to work system and the implementation of the Work Programme. The Work Programme will be a single integrated package of support providing personalised
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help for everyone who finds themselves out of work regardless of the benefit they claim.

This will give providers longer to work with individuals and greater freedom to decide the appropriate support for them. We will also offer stronger incentives for providers to work with the harder to help, paying providers out of the additional benefits they realise as a result of placing people into work.

We are determined to move quickly and are aiming to have the Work Programme in place nationally by the summer of 2011.

Until the Work Programme is implemented, we will ensure support is in place. Where necessary, we will seek to extend current arrangements to ensure that there is no gap in provision and people can continue to receive help and support to get back into work.

Once the Work Programme is implemented it will supersede much of the complicated raft of national programmes currently on offer and these will be phased out. The support currently provided by programmes such as the Flexible New Deal will be folded into the Work Programme as soon as possible.

We are committed to supporting severely disabled people and are currently reviewing the best way of doing this.

The Government have today written to relevant providers and will be beginning one to one discussions with them to discuss what this means for them. We believe that the Work Programme will offer significant new opportunities for contractors from the private and voluntary sectors to deliver truly flexible and personalised support, building appropriate partnerships to do so. We recognise the crucial role that the voluntary sector in particular has to play in tackling worklessness, and our plans reflect this.

We will be publishing further details as the design and implementation of the Work Programme progresses.

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