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Written Ministerial Statements

Wednesday 15 December 2010


Financial Assistance for Ireland

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 full credit agreement is currently being negotiated between HM Treasury and Ireland and will be provided to the House in due course.

Business, Innovation and Skills

Transposition of EU Regulations

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.

The main elements of the new Government principles are:

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Communities and Local Government

Anti-Semitism Inquiry (Government Response)

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.

Sustainable Communities Act and Barrier Busting

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.

Sustainable Communities Act 2007

The Secretary of State has today issued decisions on whether to implement proposals submitted by local authorities under the Sustainable Communities Act.
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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 placed copies of the Secretary of State's decisions under the Sustainable Communities Act and his invitation to submit further proposals in the Library of the House.

Barrier busters to remove barriers to local action

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.


EU Foreign Affairs Council (Defence)

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.

The agenda items covered were as follows:

Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) in Defence Ministers Formation

The Council adopted conclusions on military capability development. These can be found at the following website:


Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

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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).

The Council agreed a 2010 report from the Baroness Ashton, head of the EDA, in addition to the 2011 EDA work guidelines.

EDA Steering Board

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.

Informal Meeting with NATO Secretary General Rasmussen

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.

Informal FAC Session on operations

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.

Strategic Defence and Security Review - Royal Navy

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
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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.

Energy and Climate Change

Fuel Poverty

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
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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.

Refusal of new applications under the Warm Front Scheme for England

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 Consultation

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.

The consultation document will also be made available in the Libraries of both Houses.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Environment Council

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mrs Caroline Spelman): I will represent the UK at the Environment Council in Brussels on 20 December.

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
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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.

The following topics will be covered under "any other business":


NHS Consultation, Operating Frameworks and PCT Revenue

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
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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:

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:

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:

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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
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NHS: Legislative framework and next steps". and our national priorities, today set out in the NHS operating framework.

International Development

Pakistan Floods

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.

In this context, I am pleased to inform the House of further UK Government support for relief and recovery efforts since I last updated the House on 12 October. These include:

All of these interventions have been appraised in detail by my Department to ensure value for money and a focus on results.

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The overall DFID humanitarian programme for the flood-affected areas is proceeding well. I can report that, as of 1 December, UKAid has achieved the following; approximately:

These results are provisional estimates from ongoing operations where the eventual total number of beneficiaries will be significantly higher.

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.

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Work and Pensions

Parliamentary Written Question (Correction)

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:

MonthCost (£)

November 2009


December 2009


January 2010


February 2010


March 2010


April 2010


May 2010


June 2010


July 2010


August 2010


September 2010


October 2010


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