The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr Mark Hoban): The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced as part of the Budget the introduction of a Bank Levy from 1 January 2011.
Excessive risk taking in the banking sector was a significant contributory factor in the recent financial crisis. Alongside the wider financial regulatory reform aimed at increasing the resilience of the financial sector, the levy is intended to ensure that the banking sector makes a fair contribution that reflects the risks it poses to the financial system and the wider economy, and to encourage banks to move away from riskier funding.
The Government have today published a consultation document setting out issues around technical aspects of the design and implementation of the Bank Levy. This consultation exercise will help to ensure the levy is designed in a way that best meets its objectives, including ensuring the compliance costs faced by firms are minimised.
It is proposed that draft legislation will be published in the autumn to allow for further comments from stakeholders. Final draft legislation for inclusion in the 2011 Finance Bill will be published towards the end of 2010, ahead of implementation of the levy.
Copies of the consultation document are available in the Vote Office and have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Danny Alexander): Lord Hutton's terms of reference and "Call for Evidence" are available in the Vote Office and in the Printed Paper Office, and have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.
Periodic updates of the Commission's work will be made available through the website, located at: www. hm-treasury.gov.uk/indreview_johnhutton_pensions. htm.
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): I am pleased to announce that Her Majesty the Queen has invited His Highness the Emir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, accompanied by his Consort Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned to pay a state visit to the United Kingdom from 26 October to 28 October 2010. The visit will further the close relations that exist between the United Kingdom and the State of Qatar.
The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Andrew Lansley): We are today laying before Parliament the Government's response (Cm 7877) to the Health Select Committee report on commissioning, which was published on 30 March 2010.
The range of the Health Select Committee's inquiry and their report recognise the scale and complexity of the challenge we face. Commissioning is a crucial process in the NHS. It ensures that the health and care services provided effectively meet the needs of the population. It is a complex process with responsibilities ranging from assessing population needs, prioritising health outcomes, procuring products and services to managing service providers.
Since the Health Select Committee's inquiry, there has been a change of administration following a general election in May 2010. The Command Paper published today therefore sets out the present coalition Government's response to the Health Select Committee's fourth report of the session 2009-10.
The White Paper, "Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS", published on 12 July 2010, sets out our proposals for transforming the quality of commissioning by devolving decision making to local consortia of GP practices supported by an independent NHS Commissioning Board.
The weaknesses in commissioning identified by the Health Select Committee are symptomatic of a system that did not emphasise the importance of clinical involvement in decisions about how the precious resources of the NHS should be spent. We have set out in the White Paper a clear sense of direction, with new rigour and the commitment to put commissioning decisions in the hands of those who are closest to patients themselves-GP practices and other primary care professionals.
Today's publication is in the Library and copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Anne Milton): European Union Health Ministers met in Brussels for an informal meeting of the EPSCO (Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council ) Council on 5 and 6 July. I represented the UK.
The morning session of 5 July consisted of a discussion of EU-level collaboration on cancer. A number of member states indicated their support for greater information sharing and production of comparable data on cancer outcomes at EU level.
There was also discussion of the EU's response to the A(H1N1) pandemic (building on the expert conference held on 1 and 2 July by the Belgian presidency). Discussion focused upon the issues of vaccine procurement, and the wider EU co-ordination of pandemic response.
The EU structures for responding to health emergencies (such as pandemics) were also discussed. This included
a discussion of the possibility of revising the mandate of the Health Security Committee, whose mandate expires in December 2010.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Norman Baker):
I regret to inform the House that there was an inaccuracy in the answer I gave to parliamentary
question 5072 on 5 July, Official Report, column 9W, about the research that had been undertaken on battery technology. The £3 million competition that was launched on the 24 June and to which I referred to in my answer, was in fact launched by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. It was not launched by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills itself.