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Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Business, Innovation and Skills

Higher Education (Student Finance)

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Vince Cable): Lord Browne of Madingley today presented the Government with the findings of the independent review of higher education funding and student finance.

The review was tasked with making recommendations to Government on the future of fees policy and financial support for full and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students in England.

The report is the culmination of months of diligent inquiry by Lord Browne and his panel of experts. They have taken evidence from a wide range of people including students, the higher education sector and business.

We will judge their recommendations against the criteria set out in the coalition agreement, including the need to:

I am placing a copy of the report in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies will also be available from both the Vote and Printed Paper Office. Electronic copies are available on the BIS website.

I intend to respond to the report in an oral statement to the House at 3.30pm today.


Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (Preferred Bidder)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Peter Luff): I am pleased to announce the successful outcome of the light protected patrol vehicle (LPPV) competition for a new vehicle to replace the existing Snatch Land Rovers and Weapons Mount Installation Kit (WMIK) vehicles on operations in Afghanistan. Following a rigorous trial and assessment phase, preferred bidder status has been awarded to Force Protection Europe for an initial tranche of 200 vehicles, subject to successful completion of contract negotiations. This initial tranche will be procured through the urgent operational requirements process, and we expect the first vehicles to be delivered for training in 2011. Further buys of LPPV will be subject to the confirmation of our wider requirement, which will be confirmed by the strategic defence and security review and defence planning round. Force Protection Europe's vehicle represents leading edge technology and will provide an unprecedented
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balance of protection, weight and agility for a vehicle of its class. The vehicle is a new design developed specifically to meet the requirements of UK armed forces, and is only now possible due to the considerable investment by the Ministry of Defence and UK Industry in this technology. LPPV is a UK design, and will be manufactured in the UK, creating or sustaining over 750 UK jobs. LPPV is also ideally placed to take advantage of the export market, which the Government are fully committed to supporting.


NHS Constitution (Whistleblowing)

The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Andrew Lansley): On 9 June I made a statement to the House about the failings of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, Official Report, column 333. I made clear my intention to hold a full public inquiry into how these failings have continued unchallenged and undetected for so long.

A culture of fear and secrecy had pervaded this trust, leaving its staff feeling unable to raise concerns. Therefore, I set out action needed prior to the publication of the inquiry's findings in March 2011. Specifically, I made it clear that I intended to initiate work on whistleblowing, to improve conditions and procedures for those who wished to raise concerns.

Today, I am launching a public consultation on amendments to the NHS constitution and its handbook, which are concerned with making clear the rights and responsibilities of NHS staff and their employers in respect of whistleblowing.

The consultation proposes three key changes:

Responses from all interested parties are welcome. The consultation and response form have been placed in the Library and copies are available to hon. Members in the Vote Office. The documents can also be found at: http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Consultations/Liveconsultations/index.htm.

The consultation closes on 11 January 2011.

I am pleased to say that this consultation follows significant progress already made on whistleblowing since June. On 25 June 2010 new guidance was published for the NHS, developed through the social partnership forum (SPF) with expert support and advice from the independent whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work.

Designed to support NHS organisations who are in the process of updating or creating whistleblowing policies and procedures, the guidance promotes best practice. It suggests simple steps to help NHS organisations ensure
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their whistleblowing arrangements are fit for purpose. The guidance can be found on the Department's website at:

In addition, the NHS Staff Council has negotiated changes to the terms and conditions of service handbook for NHS staff covered by Agenda for Change, to include a contractual right and duty to raise concerns in the public interest. A circular to NHS organisations informing them of these changes was published on 13 September 2010 with immediate effect. Both these are available on the NHS employers website at:

Home Department

Animal Procedures Committee Annual Report

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Lynne Featherstone): In accordance with section 20(5) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, the Committee's annual report for 2009 has today been laid before the House. Copies are available in the Vote Office. The report includes details of:

International Development

UN Millennium Development Goals Summit

The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr Andrew Mitchell): The Deputy Prime Minister and I represented the UK at the United Nations millennium development goals summit which took place on 20-22 September 2010. World leaders, civil society organisations and prominent business leaders gathered to agree the action needed to meet the millennium development goals by 2015 and lift millions of people out of poverty.

The UK's main objective for the summit was to secure renewed momentum in the global fight against poverty and to agree an ambitious approach to reaching the millennium development goals by 2015. It was an opportunity to reinforce the UK's reputation as a serious and committed world leader on development. The Deputy Prime Minister reiterated the UK's commitment to reaching 0.7% of GNI in aid from 2013 and challenged others to live up to their promises.

The UK focused its efforts on securing a major push on the most off-track millennium development goals, particularly women's and children's health. UN Secretary-General's Ban Ki-moon's Every Woman Every Child event launched a global strategy aimed at saving the lives of more than 16 million women and children. At the event the Deputy Prime Minister set out the
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UK's new commitment to save the lives of at least 50,000 women in pregnancy and childbirth, 250,000 newborn babies and enable 10 million couples to access modern methods of family planning over the next five years.

With the support of UK leadership, the event generated an unprecedented $40 billion in resources for maternal and child health. As important as the financial commitments was the wide range of partners that came behind the strategy. Developing countries were prominent: Afghanistan and Yemen pledged to increase access to family planning and safe births, and Nigeria committed to spend a share of oil revenues on healthcare. Significant new commitments also came from the private sector (Johnson & Johnson committed $200 million over the next five years), charities. NGOs (World Vision International committed $1.5 billion over five years) and international organisations.

The UK also co-hosted a high profile side event on malaria, which challenged leaders from both rich and poor countries to do more to save lives needlessly lost every day to this disease. The event succeeded in generating impressive new support. I announced our commitments to help halve the number of deaths caused by malaria in at least 10 African countries by 2015 by increasing access to malaria prevention, diagnostics and treatment backed by an increase in funding up to £500 million per year by 2014.

I also announced the UK's support for the scaling up nutrition (SUN) "1,000 days" campaign at a side event co-hosted by Hilary Clinton. This initiative and the nutrition leaders group which will help drive this forward.

UK leadership was also commended for its increased focus on results and mutual accountability. The UK pressed and secured an annual review mechanism as part of the summit's outcome document. Work is under way to record all of the policy and financial commitments, not just from Governments, made at the summit. There was a clear commitment from the Ban Ki-moon to ensure that all sides will be held accountable.

The summit ended with the formal adoption of the outcome document "Keeping the Promise: United to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals"-a copy of which will be placed in the Library of the House of Commons. This important document sets out a path towards meeting the MDGs, giving a lifeline to millions of the world's poorest people. The UK Government are now focused on ensuring that we and our partners around the world maximise our efforts to reach the millennium development goals in the next five years and live up to our promises to the world's poorest people.

Pakistan Floods

The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr Andrew Mitchell): I would like to update the House on the humanitarian situation in Pakistan following the floods and on the UK Government's response.

It is now nearly two months since the floods hit. The situation, particularly in Southern Sindh province, continues to be extremely difficult. Some 7.3 million people there have been affected. Of this total, 2.3 million people are in need of immediate assistance. Significant shortfalls continue in the distribution of relief across all sectors and capacity to respond is stretched. The World Food
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Programme continues to drop food rations by air and public buildings such as schools still house tens of thousands of people. The full extent of loss and damage may not be known for several weeks as many areas remain under water.

In other areas of Pakistan, the situation is mixed. In Punjab, the majority of the 5.3 million people affected have now returned to their home areas and the focus is beginning to shift from emergency relief to early recovery. In Khyber Paktunkwha most of the 3.8 million people affected have returned home and are beginning to rebuild their lives. Approximately 1 million internally displaced persons are gradually returning to Sindh from Balochistan. The monsoon season is now drawing to a close and snow has already been reported in the northern mountainous regions reflecting the seasonal change to winter.

The scale and shifting patterns of both displacement and return means it remains a challenge to achieve the necessary pace and scale of response. The UN continues to build up its surge capacity and improve co-ordination. NGOs are beginning to improve their reach in Sindh province. The Government of Pakistan are responding through the relevant provincial disaster management authorities and are still delivering relief through the Pakistan military in Sindh province.

Meeting the remaining emergency relief and early recovery needs of the critically affected population remains our immediate priority. To date UKAid has helped approximately:

Given the changing nature of the situation support is now needed to help Pakistan recover from the floods. On 17 September, the United Nations launched a revised plan to provide a framework for remaining emergency relief needs, but also to help up to 14 million people get back on their feet and recover from the floods. The total funding requirement stands at just over US$2 billion (£1.3 billion) over the next 12 months.

The revised UN plan was discussed at a high level UN meeting on 19 September in New York. At that meeting I announced an additional £70 million of funding to help meet remaining emergency relief needs and in particular to support the people of Pakistan to rebuild their lives. UK funding will help revive agriculture, provide temporary education facilities to get children back into school and help people rebuild their communities and provide short-term employment opportunities. This brings the UK's total contribution to £134 million, in addition to the £60 million raised through the generosity of the UK public through the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal.

I would like to emphasise to the House the Government's commitment to ensuring transparency and value for money. Funding allocations will continue to be made on the basis of rigorous assessments of needs on the
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ground, and will be subject to thorough monitoring and evaluation. None of the resources pledged for relief will be channelled through the Government of Pakistan in line with standard humanitarian practice.

My Department has already begun to allocate the additional funding. In recognition of the ongoing emergency needs of flood-affected people in Southern Sindh, we are aiming to address the emergency health and water and sanitation needs of approximately 500,000 people through international and local NGOs at a cost of up to £8 million. I am also pleased to announce that we plan to help meet the immediate agriculture needs of approximately 850,000 vulnerable people in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan and the critical winter rabi cropping window in late October-November, at a cost of some £7 million.

Our commitment to the people of Pakistan remains a long-term one. The UK will continue to play a leading role in encouraging others in the international community to step up to the mark. The UK was instrumental in securing a commitment at the European Council on 16 September to develop ambitious trade measures for Pakistan, including the immediate reduction of import duties and improved longer-term access to EU markets through generalised system of preferences (GSP+).

The floods require an exceptional response from the Government of Pakistan as well as from the international community. At the forthcoming Pakistan Development Forum the Government of Pakistan should set out plans for growth and economic reform as well as reconstruction. The credibility of these plans will determine how donors respond to future reconstruction and development needs.

Reform of CDC Group plc

The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr Andrew Mitchell): I wish to inform the House of the Government's decision to reconfigure CDC in order radically to increase its development impact.

CDC has the potential to be the jewel in the crown of the UK's support to the private sector in developing countries. In the past, when its expertise was more developmentally than financially focused, its record of achieving investment returns was at best uneven. Subsequently, the balance has tipped too far the other way. CDC now needs to reinvigorate its development DNA and marry this together with business know-how and financial discipline. It must strive towards both development and financial gains.

As a fund of funds, CDC has in some ways been a remarkable success. In terms of financial performance, we applaud the achievement of turning £1 billion into £2.5 billion since 2004. But CDC has become less directly engaged in serving the needs of development. Using public capital CDC pursued the narrowly defined private sector goals for which it was incentivised and this meant the greatest return for the least risk. This was not consistent with concentrating its efforts in the regions of greatest development need.

We will create a revitalised CDC with a great deal more clarity and ambition over what it does and where it works.

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Specifically, I shall propose that CDC reduce new commitments to future third-party funds and consider the benefits of liquidating some of its existing investments where this can be done on attractive terms. We will not end commitments to new third-party funds since they can be the most appropriate way to mobilise funding in some countries and for some investment purposes. But the fund of funds model should make up no more than part of a new, broader and more actively managed portfolio.

CDC should regain its power to make investments directly in target countries. This could be done through co-investment with other sources of capital where, by doing so, CDC would make possible desirable investments which could not otherwise be made.

In addition to regaining greater investment control, CDC should be committed to participating through a wider range of vehicles, including investment in debt instruments and the provision of guarantees. Greater flexibility will enable it to build a more diversified portfolio in terms of risk, maturity and liquidity.

I should like CDC also to develop a more active approach to portfolio management. Its purpose is to invest in the poorest countries or sectors where capital is otherwise not available-to provide patient capital to finance and kick-start private investment in the most difficult regions.

CDC also needs more financial firepower. It needs to try to find liquidity for its investments so that capital can be recycled more quickly to new targets. We are also exploring how CDC could regain its power to borrow. This would give CDC the ability to move more quickly and more effectively.

CDC must continue to show that it is improving the way in which firms in the poorest countries operate, and that it monitors and demands improvements in the conditions under which people work. CDC must also continue to demand more effective treatment of environmental issues, more transparency and a rigorous approach to corruption.

These reforms will enable CDC to become a distinctive, innovative and differentiated development finance institution, with clearly measurable development impact and additionality, and new commitments targeted throughout sub-Saharan Africa and the poorer parts of Asia. I want CDC to be more pro-poor focused than any other development finance institution, doing the hardest things in the hardest places.

Identifying the sectors on which CDC should focus in future is a complex area. The correlation between investment and poverty reduction is not straight forward.

The Government want to listen to a wide range of views before taking any decisions. CDC and DFID will commission independent studies which will be made public on the DFID website and my Department is also launching a consultation, outline details of which will be available on Wednesday 13 October.

Regaining greater power over the investment of capital needs to be staged carefully, will take time, and will need resources of human capital additional to the dedicated people working for CDC at the moment. CDC must attract people of the highest calibre, who are passionate about pro-poor investment and whose expertise is rewarded
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by remuneration that is fair and appropriate, but not excessive. As part of the consultation, I will consider what that remuneration structure should be.

I shall make a further announcement early next year and CDC will reflect the necessary changes in the business plan which they will publish in the spring.


Eco-driving Training

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mike Penning): The Department for Transport has today published its response to the consultation on options to increase the uptake of eco-driving training for drivers of large goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles.

Consistent with the Government's deregulation agenda I have decided not to make eco-driving training a mandatory part of the driver certificate of professional competence at this time.

I will instead respond to industry assurances that they have the will to increase uptake of eco-driving training without direct Government intervention, and will encourage and support industry-led initiatives to improve fuel efficiency and tackle carbon emissions, of which a number have emerged as a result of this consultation.

In 2012 the Department will review the level of uptake of eco-driving training and fuel savings resulting both from these industry-led initiatives and from voluntary uptake as part of the driver CPC and will reconsider the case for Government intervention.

I have placed copies of the consultation response document and associated impact assessment in the Libraries of both Houses.

Work and Pensions

Right to Control Regulations

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Maria Miller): On 25 February 2010 the Right to Control trailblazer sites were announced and a national consultation on the Right to Control draft regulations, "Making choice and control a reality for disabled people: consultation on the Right to Control trailblazer regulations", was published.

We have worked closely with disabled people and their organisations to develop the Right to Control, and continue to do so. Our advisory group, chaired by Baroness Jane Campbell, has co-produced both the policy and the draft regulations.

The consultation period finished on 26 May 2010, with 34 responses received in total from trailblazer sites, disability organisations and individual disabled people. The responses received have helped us ensure that our trailblazers are supported by the most appropriate regulations possible. Today, with the publication of our Government response to coincide with the laying of our draft regulations in Parliament, we are getting closer to
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achieving our aim of providing disabled people with the choice and control they have told us they want.

We are phasing the introduction of the Right to Control in trailblazer areas to ensure the best possible service will be provided to disabled people. The majority of the sites will start to offer the Right to Control from 13 December, with two of the more complex trailblazers, the Sheffield city council and Barnsley metropolitan borough council joint trailblazer, and the Greater Manchester consortium, commencing on 1 March and 1 April 2011 respectively.

Since the initial announcement of the sites piloting the Right to Control, Redcar and Cleveland borough
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council has withdrawn from being a trailblazer site. There have recently been significant management changes within the council and they now feel the need to dedicate existing available resources to other priority areas within adult services.

The Government response to the Right to Control regulations consultation "Making choice and control a reality for disabled people: Government response to consultation on the Right to Control trailblazer regulations" can be viewed and downloaded from the Office of Disability Issues website at: www.odi.gov.uk/right-to-control. Copies of the document will also be placed in the House Libraries.

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