The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr George Osborne): I have today placed in the Libraries of both Houses and made available in the Vote Office copies of a summary of key terms for the credit facility for Ireland, agreed in principle with the Irish authorities, to inform debate of the Loans to Ireland Bill.
The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Vince Cable): I would like to inform the House that today I will set out a series of new principles that the Government will use when introducing European measures into UK law. Copies of the guiding principles will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. These will end so-called gold-plating so that British businesses are not put at a disadvantage relative to their European competitors.
The key to the new measures will be the principle of copying out the text of European directives directly into UK law. The direct "copy out" principle will mean that British interpretations of European law are not unfairly restricting British companies.
The new measures are part of a wider Government policy to tackle EU regulations, including: by working with business organisations to prioritise proposals in the European Commission's legislative work plan for 2011 and beyond, working closely with other European countries to push for more outcome-focused EU regulation, and improving how evidence is used by the European Parliament and Council.
Work on the implementation of an EU directive should start immediately after agreement is reached in Brussels. By starting implementation work early, businesses will have more chance to influence the approach, ensuring greater certainty and early warning about its impact.
Early transposition of EU regulations will be avoided except where there are compelling reasons for earlier implementation. This will ensure that British businesses are not put at a disadvantage to their European competitors.
European directives will normally be directly copied into UK legislation, except where it would adversely affect UK interests, for example, by putting UK businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
A statutory duty will be placed on Ministers to conduct a review of domestic legislation implementing a European directive every five years. This will allow businesses to influence any necessary improvements based on their own practical experience of applying the rules.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Andrew Stunell): I am pleased to announce that I am today laying before Parliament the coalition Government's three-year-on response to the all party parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism (Command Paper Cm 7991).
In May 2008 the previous Government published a progress report on the 35 recommendations in the all party parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism. Since coming into office the coalition Government undertook to report back to Parliament on further progress in implementing the inquiry's recommendations.
We believe the best way to tackle anti-Semitism is through effective implementation of strong legislation against racial and religious discrimination and racially and religiously motivated crime. This must be underpinned by policies and strategies which support an integrated society where people are able to take part in society to the full; get on well together and are treated fairly.
We have made significant progress against the 35 recommendations made by the all party parliamentary inquiry's constructive and comprehensive report through the cross-Government working group to tackle anti-Semitism which brings together civil servants from across Whitehall and members of the three major Jewish community organisations.
We have ensured that there is now agreement for all police forces to record anti-Semitic hate crimes and the first disaggregated statistics were published in November. Another key success has been the agreement by the Department for Education to fund counter-terrorism security needs of Jewish faith schools within the state sector.
Despite the progress outlined in the report, there is no room for complacency and we will continue to take practical, effective action to stamp out anti-Semitism whenever and wherever it occurs. We are committed to increasing the number of hate crimes brought to justice, tackling anti-Semitism on university campuses, and challenging hate crime and extremism on the internet. We have agreed to continue our support of the cross-Government working group to tackle anti-Semitism and will report back to Parliament on any further progress.
The Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Greg Clark): I am today announcing ways the Government will further redistribute power from Westminster and Whitehall to people, neighbourhoods, communities and local institutions.
The Secretary of State has today issued decisions on whether to implement proposals submitted by local authorities under the Sustainable Communities Act.
The Government are grateful to the Local Government Association for undertaking the role of "selector", and shortlisting 199 proposals in December 2009. The Secretary of State has examined all the requests for assistance contained within the proposals in the light of the spending review and the coalition agreement and, in accordance with the Act, discussed them with the selector.
I am pleased that the Government will take action to implement, or implement in part, 37% of requests. We will also work with councils on 25% of requests to explore the issues more closely, or explain how existing powers can achieve the desired outcome.
The Secretary of State has today invited all local authorities to once again submit proposals under the Sustainable Communities Act. The invitation will be placed on the Department's website. The Government intend to revise the role of the selector in the light of this invitation, and will update the House in the new year.
I have today launched an online portal to make it easier for councils, community groups, local institutions and individuals to highlight bureaucratic barriers stopping them from taking action they believe would improve their area.
The online portal, available at: http://barrierbusting. communities.gov.uk will also make it easier for councils to submit proposals under the Sustainable Communities Act. Councils will be able to submit directly to the Secretary of State rather than an external selector, and at a time of their choosing-not a centrally imposed deadline.
I have established a specialised team within the Department for Communities and Local Government who will work with those who submit requests for assistance through the portal, and will try to remove the barrier identified.
This online portal will ensure that our commitment to decentralising power is made as transparent as possible. Members of the public will be able to see how we are dealing with requests, and hold us to account accordingly.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Gerald Howarth): The EU Foreign Affairs Council met in Defence Ministers formation on 9 December 2010 in Brussels. I represented the UK for the morning sessions but had to return to London before lunch when the UK was represented by Mr Tim Barrow, the UK ambassador to the Political and Security Committee.
Baroness Ashton stressed the need for improved co-operation in developing capabilities in Europe in a time of budget cuts. There was strong support from member states for increased effort in pooling and sharing, and I emphasised that this needed to be driven by voluntary national commitments to pragmatic solutions, using the example of the recent UK/France agreement. I also expressed a preference to revert to the traditional format of Defence Ministers and Foreign Ministers meeting together in the FAC to discuss common foreign security policy and common security and defence policy as a linked set of issues.
I made clear that, in the current economic climate, with most member states including the UK reducing their defence budgets, I could not agree to an increase in the budget of the European Defence Agency (EDA) for 2011. The Council subsequently agreed to freeze the EDA budget for 2011 at the same level as 2010 (€30.5 million).
An EDA steering board at Defence Ministers level was held in the margins of the Council. Ministers discussed the appointment of the next EDA executive, and agreed a further period of consultation on Baroness Ashton's proposal. The steering board also took note of the agency's ongoing work on pooling and sharing.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen briefed Ministers on the Lisbon summit and on the importance of improving the EU/NATO relationship, including in the field of capability development. This built on recent closer working in areas of counter-IEDs and medical support. Ministers agreed on the need for closer co-operation between the EU and NATO.
Ministers discussed CSDP military operations over lunch, and were briefed by the three operation commanders. Major General Howes (Op ATALANTA) stressed the need for changing the risk/reward ratio for pirates, and Ministers discussed the need for regional capacity building. Colonel Elul (EU Training Mission Somalia) briefed that training was going well, but that the reintegration of trainees in Mogadishu remained a challenge. General McColl (Operation ALTHEA) informed Ministers that the security environment remained stable in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Ministers debated the need for the EU to remain in an executive role, and Ambassador Tim Barrow (UK ambassador to the Political and Security Committee), representing the UK, noted that the UN had recently renewed its mandate for a further 12 months.
The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox):
The White Paper "Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence Review" (Cm 7948), presented to the House on 19 October 2010, explained the Government's intention to make certain changes to
the armed forces in order to deliver the force structure we require for the future and to help address the legacy of unaffordability in the defence budget. I am now able to explain more fully those changes that affect the Royal Navy's surface fleet.
We announced that the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal would be decommissioned and accordingly, she will finally be withdrawn from service at the end of this month. We also announced that we would decommission either her sister ship HMS Illustrious or the landing platform helicopter HMS Ocean following a short study into which of these two ships was better able to provide the capability we require over the next few years. This work has now been completed and we have decided that HMS Ocean should be retained to provide our landing platform helicopter capability for the longer-term. HMS Illustrious will be withdrawn from service in 2014, once HMS Ocean has emerged from a planned refit and been returned to a fully operational state. This will ensure that we retain the ability to deliver an amphibious intervention force from the sea and maintain an experienced crew to support the later introduction into service of the new Queen Elizabeth class carrier.
The White Paper also explained that four frigates would be withdrawn from service in 2011. These are the remaining Type 22 frigates HMS Chatham, Campbeltown, Cumberland and Cornwall. Chatham will be withdrawn from service at the end of January 2011 and Campbeltown and Cumberland will follow on 1 April. HMS Cornwall will be withdrawn at the end of April once she has returned from her current operational deployment to the Indian Ocean.
Other changes affect the Navy's amphibious ships. The Bay class amphibious support ship to be decommissioned will be RFA Largs Bay. She will be withdrawn from service in April 2011. One of our two landing platforms dock will in future be placed at extended readiness while the other is held at high readiness for operations. From November 2011 the high readiness ship will be HMS Bulwark, and on current plans this will change to HMS Albion in late 2016 when Bulwark enters a refit period.
The final changes affect the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. The White Paper said that there would be a fleet of resupply and refuelling vessels scaled to meet the Royal Navy's requirements. With a smaller surface fleet these requirements are correspondingly lower, and hence we have decided to withdraw from service from April 2011 the auxiliary oiler RFA Bayleaf and the auxiliary oiler replenishment RFA Fort George.
The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Chris Huhne):
Today I am announcing that the budget for the Warm Front scheme in England is fully allocated for this financial year. The budget was set in the 2007 spending review and subsequently updated in last year's pre-Budget report. From today the scheme is fully subscribed and will be unable to take new applications for the remainder of the current year. The scheme has a
substantial order book of work that will take to at least March 2011 to complete. I am also announcing the publication of a consultation on the eligibility for Warm Front measures.
The Warm Front scheme provides a range of energy efficiency and heating measures to vulnerable private sector households in England who are in receipt of a qualifying benefit. Due to high demand for the Warm Front scheme throughout the year the available budget for 2010-11 has now been fully allocated and it is unable to take new applications.
All existing qualifying applications already taken by the scheme manager will be fully honoured and the 76,000 heating and insulation jobs awaiting installation will be completed as far as possible by the end of March 2011. This is only a temporary measure. The scheme will be able to approve new applications in the next financial year.
Warm Front is one of our key tools for tackling fuel poverty among private sector households in England. The scheme was introduced in 2000 and has helped more than 2 million households vulnerable to fuel poverty with a range of heating, insulation and other energy efficiency measures.
As part of the spending review 2010, the Government announced that we will continue to fund the Warm Front programme for the next two years. With a smaller programme budget it means that it is an appropriate time to consider whether the scope for Warm Front assistance should be revised to better focus support on those in fuel poverty or vulnerable to fuel poverty.
This is the purpose of plans set out today in our consultation. The aim is to improve the cost-effectiveness of the scheme by ensuring that Warm Front will be a better targeted programme to help the most vulnerable receive support in the form of free or subsidised heating and insulation measures.
The Warm Front consultation will run until 9 February 2011 and can be found at: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/consultations/warm front/warm front.aspx.
At this Council, the Belgian presidency will seek political agreement on the regulation concerning the placing on the market of biocidal products. The presidency will also present a progress report on the recast of the directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment and a progress report on the proposal for a regulation
regarding the possibility for member states to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs in their territory.
The presidency will further seek the adoption of Council conclusions on sustainable materials management and sustainable production and consumption, improving environmental policy instruments and the outcome of and follow-up to the 10th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the convention on biological diversity in Nagoya.
There will also be an exchange of views on the outcome of and follow-up to the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN convention on climate change and the 6th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto protocol.
There may be an agenda item on the regulation setting emission performance standards for new light commercial vehicles, as part of the Community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles.
Information from the Commission on the Commission communications on practical implementation of the EU biofuels and bioliquids sustainability scheme and counting rules for biofuels, and on voluntary schemes and default values in the EU biofuels and bioliquids sustainability scheme;
Information from the presidency on the main environmental events organised by the Belgian presidency;
Information from the Lithuanian delegation on nuclear installations planned in the EU neighbourhood (Kaliningrad region and Belarus);
Information from the Belgian delegation on the implementation of directive 2008/50/EC on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe with particular regard to PM 10 particles;
Information from the Greek delegation on the outcome of the Mediterranean climate change initiative;
Information from the Portuguese delegation on directive 2008/98/EC on waste, including climate aspects in the application of the energy efficiency formula to waste energy plants and to plants in the EU outermost regions, and the strategic importance of end-of-waste status for high-quality refuse-derived fuel in the near future;
Information from the Romanian delegation on the 2nd Meeting of the Parties to the protocol on water and health to the convention on the protection and use of transboundary watercourses and international lakes (Bucharest, 23-25 November 2010); and
Information from the Hungarian delegation on the work programme of the incoming presidency.
The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Andrew Lansley):
Today I am laying before Parliament "Liberating the NHS: Legislative framework and next steps" (Cm 7993), the Government's response to the consultation on implementing the White Paper reforms set out in "Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS". Sir David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive, is also today publishing the NHS operating framework and revenue allocations to primary care trusts (PCTs) for 2011-12. The operating framework and revenue allocations have been placed in
the Library. Copies of all documents are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.
"Liberating the NHS: Legislative framework and next steps" shows how the Department has developed its plans in the light of consultation and sets out further detail on the reforms and a timetable for implementation. The document also sets out a timetable for implementation and explains how the consultation has shaped the health and social care Bill, planned for introduction in January. Overall, the document reaffirms the Government's commitment to reforming the NHS so that it:
puts patients right at the heart of decisions made about their care;
puts clinicians in the driving seat on decisions about services; and
is focused on delivering health outcomes that are comparable with, or even better than, those of our international neighbours.
The Department received over 6,000 consultation responses from patients and members of the public, clinicians, voluntary organisations, patient representative groups, local authorities, local involvement networks (LINks), NHS organisations and staff, independent providers, pharmacists, academics, professional bodies and royal colleges, think-tanks and trade unions.
Responses contained a broad mix of support, suggestions for improvement and critical challenge. The insights and suggestions we have heard in consultation have not only strengthened our belief that the reforms are necessary but have also helped us refine our proposals in several areas. In particular, the Government have decided to:
significantly strengthen the role of health and well-being boards in local authorities, and enhance joint working arrangements through a new responsibility to develop a "joint health and well-being strategy" spanning the NHS, social care, public health and potentially other local services. Local authority and NHS commissioners will be required to have regard to this;
create a more distinct identity for Health Watch England, led by a statutory committee within the Care Quality Commission;
increase transparency in commissioning by requiring all GP consortia to have a published constitution;
change our proposal that maternity services should be commissioned by the NHS Commissioning Board;
extend councils' formal scrutiny powers to cover all NHS-funded services, and give local authorities greater freedom in how these are exercised;
phase the timetable for giving local authorities responsibility for commissioning NHS complaints advocacy services, and allow flexibility to commission from other organisations as well as from local Health Watch;
give GP consortia a stronger role in supporting the NHS Commissioning Board to drive up quality in primary care; and create an explicit duty for all arm's length bodies to co-operate in carrying out their functions, backed by a new mechanism for resolving disputes.
Equally important, the feedback we received through consultation has also helped us refine our approach to implementation, in order to create flexibility, empower local leadership, and support the significant cultural change and staff engagement that respondents highlighted would be needed to make our reforms a success. The Department has therefore decided to:
allow a longer and more phased transition period for completing our reforms to providers;
create a clearer, more phased approach to the introduction of GP commissioning, by setting up a programme of GP consortia pathfinders; and
accelerate the introduction of health and well-being boards through a new programme of early implementers.
To take forward these changes the Department has put in place a single, integrated programme for the whole of the transition across the health and care system. This will help sustain performance under the existing regime at the same time as building the leadership to implement the changes. Transition will occur through a carefully designed and managed process, phased over the next four years, to allow for rapid adoption, system-wide learning, and effective risk-management. It will be aided by the creation of a number of specific time-limited transitional vehicles, with a focus on sustaining capability and capacity.
Alongside "Liberating the NHS: Legislative framework and next steps", the NHS chief executive, David Nicholson, has today published the NHS operating framework for 2011-12, which sets out the priorities for the next year. This includes how the NHS will go through a strong and stable transition over the next year to begin to deliver the vision of the White Paper. By the end of 2011-12 we expect NHS organisations to have made significant progress in moving towards a more liberated NHS. Organisations should be working across traditional boundaries to improve the quality of patient care while maintaining the quality and safety of NHS services.
I have also written today to every hon. Member in England detailing their PCT's allocations for 2011-12, which PCTs will use to deliver our vision for reform and our national priorities as set out in the operating framework.
Total revenue investment in the NHS in 2011-12 will grow to over £102 billion. The allocations I am announcing today will provide PCTs with £89 billion to spend on the local front-line services that matter most, an increase of £2.6 billion, or 3%. This funding includes an increase of £1.9 billion in PCT recurrent allocations (including £150 million for re-ablement), £69 million in primary dental services, pharmaceutical services and general ophthalmic services non-recurrent allocations, and £648 million to support joint working between health and social care.
The recurrent allocations are based upon a revised weighted capitation formula that includes improvements, such as a new mental health formula. This lays the groundwork for the switch to allocations to GP consortia and local authorities from the NHS Commissioning Board and Public Health England respectively for 2013-14. These organisational changes will free the NHS from political interference, support the transfer of decision making and responsibility for local health services to the front line, and ensure that public health programmes are safeguarded.
PCTs and local authorities will use the funding for re-ablement and joint working to agree a work plan based on local joint strategic needs assessments to deliver services which may include current services, in particular telecare, re-ablement packages and home adaptations.
The allocations announced today place PCTs in a strong position to deliver the coalition Government's vision for reform, as originally set out in "Liberating the NHS" and today reaffirmed in "Liberating the
NHS: Legislative framework and next steps". and our national priorities, today set out in the NHS operating framework.
The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr Andrew Mitchell): I would like to update the House on the Pakistan floods and the UK Government's response to the ongoing emergency relief and early recovery needs of the critically affected population.
Four months after the onset of the floods, the situation remains deeply challenging. The majority of the 14 million people who were displaced by the floods have returned to their areas of origin, apart from in Sindh province. But with homes, farms and villages badly damaged, they will need humanitarian relief for months to come and help to restore livelihoods and basic services, particularly education and health, in the affected areas.
The situation in Sindh remains critical. Up to 350,000 families remain displaced by protracted flooding on the right bank of the Indus in northern Sindh. These people are hard to reach and will need humanitarian relief well into next year-especially shelter, with winter setting in across Pakistan.
Providing safe drinking water, sanitation services, basic health care, basic household items and shelter to some 305,000 people in Sindh and Punjab through Handicap International, Oxfam, and CARE for a total cost of £5.5 million.
Providing emergency shelter for 180,000 people in the worst affected areas of Sindh, through a £1.7 million grant to Concern.
Assisting 25,000 people in Sindh to build permanent homes to replace those destroyed in the floods, through a £1.8 million grant to UNHABITAT.
Supporting a disease early-warning system and provision of essential health services to over 500,000 people in the areas worst affected by the floods for the next six months, through a contribution of £2 million to the World Health Organisation's most recent appeal.
Helping 200,000 children to resume education, through programmes costing £10 million involving Save the Children, Plan International and Hands. This will involve rehabilitation of damaged schools and provision of temporary facilities where schools have been destroyed while longer-term reconstruction is implemented.
Supporting agricultural livelihoods and the wider rural economy that will benefit approximately 1 million people. The programme will provide work opportunities, cash grants, materials, tools, seeds, skills training and technical expertise over the next nine months, through the Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies at a total cost of £20 million.
Helping over 28,000 families to acquire and look after domestic animals such as poultry, goats, and donkeys to improve nutrition and support their incomes.
971,390 people have been provided with drinking water
254,480 people have had access to latrines and/or washing areas
867,900 people have received hygiene kits or hygiene education
453,860 people have had access to basic health care
712,590 women and children have received supplementary or therapeutic feeding for malnutrition
540,560 people have received emergency goods packages typically including blankets, cooking equipment, jerry cans, and plastic sheeting.
504,450 people have received emergency shelter; and
71,925 people have benefited from seeds and fertilisers
As a result of UK and other interventions, the risk of disease has been contained so far. But there is no room for complacency. Millions of people will remain highly vulnerable and dependent on external assistance until homes, basic services, economic infrastructure and livelihoods are re-established. My Department plans to maintain a dedicated flood response team on the ground in Pakistan for the next six to nine months, actively monitoring the situation and our programme of humanitarian relief and recovery.
The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Chris Grayling): I regret to inform the House that there was an inaccuracy in my written answer 25480 given on 30 Nov 2010, Official Report, column 786-88W. The response indicated that the monthly cost of press cuttings to the pensions regulator, a non-departmental public body of the Department for Work and Pensions, was nil. I can confirm that in fact the cost of press cuttings services to the pensions regulator, in each of the last 12 months is as follows: