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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 21 March 2011

Cabinet Office

Big Society Bank

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr Nick Hurd): On 14 February, the Minister for the Cabinet Office and I published a strategy to grow the social investment market, giving charities and social enterprises access to new capital to help them to increase their impact. The strategy explained the central role of the big society bank as a cornerstone of the market, acting as both a champion and wholesale provider of capital.

In February we also announced that we would work with leading social investment experts to develop a proposal for the establishment of the big society bank as an independent private sector organisation. Since then, we have been engaging with the social investment sector, and we are pleased with the ideas coming forward. Today I would like to update the House on the next steps.

As we announced in February, Sir Ronald Cohen, former chair of the social investment taskforce, and Nick O’Donohoe, former global head of research at JP Morgan, are taking the lead on developing a proposal for a big society bank. They are engaging with the sector, and we expect that they will present their proposal to Government within the next few weeks. At that point, we expect to make an in-principle decision about whether the organisation they are proposing to establish could be the recipient of unclaimed assets from dormant accounts, subject to further development work and state aid approval. If the decision is made to go ahead, detailed set up work for the big society bank would then be able to commence, including recruitment of its chair and board.

By making this statement today we want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to feed in comments on the development of the proposal, or on our approach more generally. Separately, we are currently working to secure the state aid approvals from the European Commission that would be needed in order to capitalise an independent big society bank with money from dormant accounts and to provide it with the flexibility it needs to grow the market. We are also working with the big lottery fund on interim arrangements that will enable investments to be made as soon as dormant accounts money becomes available in the summer, using existing state aid exemptions. We will make further announcements in due course.


Armed Forces' Pay Review Body

The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): The 2011 report of the Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body (AFPRB) has now been published. I wish to express my

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thanks to the chairman and members of the review body for their report. I am pleased to confirm that the AFPRB’s recommendations are to be accepted in full, with implementation effective from 1 April 2011.

In line with the Government’s 2010 emergency Budget, which announced a two-year pay freeze for all public sector employees, the AFPRB basic military salary recommendations are only for those personnel earning £21,000 or less where the recommendation is for an increase of £250. The AFPRB also recommended a number of targeted measures, including the introduction of financial retention incentives to retain personnel essential to delivering key operational capability. The Government have also accepted the AFPRB recommendations to increase food and some accommodation charges.

Copies of the Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body report will be available in the Vote Office.


School Teachers' Review Body

The Secretary of State for Education (Michael Gove): The School Teachers’ Review Body’s (STRB’s) recommendations on pay for those unqualified teachers who earn a full-time equivalent salary of £21,000 or less are being published today. The recommendations cover the first of two matters which were referred to the STRB in October 2010. I am grateful for the careful consideration which the STRB has given to this matter. Copies of the STRB’s analysis and recommendations are available in the Vote Office, the Printed Paper Office and the Libraries of both Houses, and online at: http://www.education.gov.uk and http://www.ome.uk.com/.

The STRB has recommended that a non-consolidated payment of £250 should be made to those unqualified teachers who earn £21,000 or less; that the £250 is pro-rated for part-time unqualified teachers; and that consultation should seek to identify a simple and cost-effective method of payment.

I am grateful to the STRB for these recommendations which will apply to those unqualified teachers on scale points 1 to 3 and subject to consultees’ views, I intend to accept these recommendations.

My detailed response contains further information on these issues.


School Teachers’ Review Body’s (STRB’s) recommendations on pay for those unqualified teachers who earn a full-time equivalent salary of £21,000 or less and response from the Secretary of State for Education.

[The following sets out the STRB’s recommendations which were published on 21 March 2011, together with the response from the Secretary of State for Education. The STRB’s recommendations below are in italics.]

The Secretary of State for Education: The STRB’s analysis and recommendations on pay for those unqualified teachers who earn a full-time equivalent salary of £21,000 or less are being published today. The recommendations cover the first matter which was referred to the STRB in October 2010. Copies of the analysis and recommendations

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are available in the Vote Office, the Printed Paper Office and in the Libraries of both Houses and online at: http://www.education.gov.uk and http://www.ome.uk.com/.

In making its recommendations, the STRB was required to have regard to items (a-e) set out in the remit letter of 27 October 2010. The recommendations apply to those unqualified teachers earning £21,000 or less in the context of the two-year public sector pay freeze that will affect teachers from September 2011; and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury’s instruction that there should be a minimum award of £250 in each of these two years. I am grateful for the careful attention the STRB has given to this matter.

The STRB is due to submit its 20th report, which will include the recommendations set out below as well as recommendations on whether there should be a limit on the value of discretions that can be applied to head teachers’ pay, by 30 March. I propose, therefore, that the statutory consultation on the STRB’s recommendations (below) should wait until the 20th report and my response to that report are published in due course. I will, however, accept comments in the meantime on the pay recommendations for unqualified teachers earning £21,000 or less.

Recommendations on pay for unqualified teachers earning £21,000 or less

The STRB has recommended that:

A non-consolidated payment of £250 be made in both years to all full-time teachers on spine points 1 to 3 of the unqualified teachers’ scale;

The £250 payment be pro-rated according to their working hours for part-time teachers on points 1 to 3 of the unqualified teachers’ scale;

The Department consult, with a view to identifying a simple and cost-effective method of payment, and issue guidance as appropriate.

I am grateful to the STRB for its consideration of this issue and, subject to consultees’ views, I intend to implement the payment from September 2011. I also intend, subject to consultees’ views, for the school’s relevant body to decide how the £250 payment should be implemented.

Energy and Climate Change

Energy Council

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Chris Huhne): I will be attending the extraordinary Energy Council on 21 March, which has been called by the Hungarian presidency in order to take stock of the events in north Africa and Japan and to discuss their effect on energy markets. The Council will focus on two discussion points:

To review the state of play in the energy sectors of the countries linked to these international developments as well as their consequences on energy markets (e.g. supply from north Africa, evolution of demand in Japan);

To exchange views on the response, already underway or to be undertaken, at EU (e.g. crisis information and monitoring, various gas and oil co-ordination mechanisms) and member states’ level (e.g. national plans, redeployment of national supplies, review of safety measures), over various time horizons (from short-term to medium/long-term).

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I intend to emphasise that member states and the Commission need carefully to establish what lessons can be learned from Japan to see how they can be applied in the EU. The Government take the incident in Japan extremely seriously and I have already called on the Chief Nuclear Inspector, Dr Mike Weightman, for a thorough report on the implications of the situation in Japan and the lessons to be learned. I will also emphasise that the EU should wait until the facts of the Japanese accident are clearer before taking any decisions about changes to the safety framework.

As regards the events in north Africa, we will continue to emphasise the importance of close engagement with other states in the IEA and the IEF to ensure that proper consideration is given to any measure that would calm the market.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

International Criminal Court (Victims Fund)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr Henry Bellingham): The United Kingdom has made a donation of £500,000 to the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Trust Fund for Victims.

The Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) was established by the states parties of the ICC in 2002 to benefit the victims of crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction. It is entirely funded by voluntary donations, and the British Government are now the second largest contributor to the fund. The focus of its work so far has been in northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where its project work provides assistance to the victims of the most serious crimes, including torture and sexual violence.

The ICC is now established as a cornerstone of the international justice system, and the recent referral to the Court by the United Nations Security Council of the situation in Libya was a clear example of the core role that the Court is now playing on the international stage. In all of its work, the ICC has placed a special focus on the rights and needs of victims. The TFV, anticipating that its mandate on reparations will be activated in the foreseeable future, will continue to play an increasingly important role in support of these victims, as they seek to re-establish their dignity and livelihood.


NHS Pay Review Body

The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Andrew Lansley): I am responding on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the 25th report of the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB). The report has been laid before Parliament today (Cm 8029). Copies of the report are available to hon. Members from the Vote

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Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office. I am grateful to the chair and members of the NHSPRB for their report.

We welcome the NHSPRB’s 25th report and accept its conclusions in full. We will take forward the suggested actions, which will help us continue to improve our support for the NHSPRB’s important work.


Prison Service Pay Review

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Crispin Blunt): The 10th report of the Prison Service Pay Review Body (PSPRB) (Cm 8021) has been laid before Parliament today. The report makes recommendations for staff within the remit group who earn the full-time equivalent of £21,000 and below, and who are eligible for an increase in 2011-12 under the Government’s announced pay policy for public sector workforces. Copies of the report are available at: http://www.ome.uk.com/PSPRB_Annual_Reports.aspx. I am grateful to the chair and members of the PSPRB for their hard work in producing these recommendations.

The PSPRB key recommendations for 2011 are as follows:

a consolidated increase of £250 to all pay points at or below £21,000, including the first two points on the closed prison officer scale;

a requirement for the service and the POA to engage promptly in constructive dialogue with a view to agreeing the pay scales to apply for prison officer 2, prison officer 1 and the new operational support grade (OSG).

The PSPRB’s recommendations, which are consistent with our proposals for 2011-12, will be implemented. The cost of the award will be met from within the delegated budget allocation for the National Offender Management Service.

Prime Minister

Review Body on Senior Salaries

The Prime Minister (Mr David Cameron): Since coming to power the Government have taken a number of steps to control public sector pay. At the first meeting of the Cabinet, Ministers announced that they would take a 5% pay cut—and that their pay would be frozen for the rest of the Parliament; vital savings have been achieved by freezing the pay of those earning over £21,000 and placing restrictions on bonuses for senior managers; transparency has been increased by publishing the salaries of senior Whitehall officials; and requirements for ministerial scrutiny of the highest public sector wages have been extended and strengthened.

In the civil service in particular significant savings have been made. Departmental spending envelopes set at the spending review mean that administration costs will fall by £5.899 million by 2014-15, a reduction of 34%. In addition, Departments have taken forward

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recruitment freezes which, alongside reforms to the civil service compensation scheme will deliver further savings over the spending review period.

It is in this context that the 33rd report of the Review Body on Senior Salaries (SSRB) is being published today. The report covers the remuneration of the judiciary, senior civil servants, senior officers in the armed forces and certain senior NHS managers. Copies have been laid in the Vote Office, the Printed Paper Office and the Libraries of both Houses. I thank the SSRB for their work in preparing this report.

The Judiciary

Given in particular the two-year pay freeze that will be in place for public servants earning over £21,000 from April 2011, the Government are not announcing any immediate changes to judicial salaries, but are considering the detail of the report overall and will respond at an appropriate time.

Senior Civil Service

The Government confirm that they will continue to work on reforms to the current SCS reward model that are consistent with the Government’s wider policy on restraint in public sector pay, and senior pay in particular, and the need to ensure that the civil service can continue to recruit, retain and motivate sufficient people of the necessary quality to fulfil the important roles undertaken by the SCS. The Government are grateful for the constructive engagement from the trade unions on SCS pay reform and will continue to consult and engage with them going forwards.

Senior Officers in the Armed Forces

The Government have accepted the review body’s recommendation that the Ministry of Defence review the performance management and pay system and consider whether improvements can be made.

Senior NHS Managers

The Government thank the review body for its work in this area and for continuing to monitor recruitment and retention over the pay freeze period.

Other Review Body reports for 2011-12

My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Defence, Justice, Education and Health are making statements today on the reports of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body, the Prison Service Pay Body, the School Teachers Review Body, and the NHS Pay Review Body in respect of pay for the relevant workforces.


Drink and Drug-driving

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Philip Hammond): I have today placed in the Library of the House the Government’s response to a report by Sir Peter North on drink and drug-driving which was published in June 2010. This response also covers a report by the Transport Select Committee which was published in December 2010. The Government’s response is available on the Department’s website: www.dft.gov.uk.

The Government are committed to improving road safety. It is a priority to deter driving when unfit through drugs or alcohol, and to ensure that those who persist in this dangerous behaviour are detected and punished effectively. We must protect law-abiding road users with measures that are effective and proportionate, concentrating

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on those who are a danger to themselves and other road users, while avoiding unnecessary social and economic impacts.

We are convinced that our first priority must be to give the police the means to identify drug-drivers and compel them to give evidential samples for testing. It is just as dangerous for people to drive impaired by alcohol or drugs, and it is quite wrong that it is easier at present to get away with one than the other. There needs to be a clear message that drug-drivers are as likely to be caught and punished as drink-drivers and that drug-driving is as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.

We have taken the first steps to address this with a specification for drug testing equipment for the police. We aim to have this available for use later this year. We will—as Sir Peter suggested—examine the case for a new specific offence which would remove the need for the police to prove impairment on a case-by-case basis where a specified drug has been detected. The introduction of fixed thresholds for blood-alcohol as the test for drink-driving has delivered benefits to road safety that are clear for all to see.

Our strategy is to focus resources and any legislative changes on measures which will have the most impact in reducing dangerous behaviours. There are therefore two main priorities—

to continue the successful abatement of drink-driving and achieve similar success against drug-driving by giving the police effective tools to identify and proceed against drink and drug-drivers;

to streamline the enforcement process for drink and drug-driving to remove pressure on police and other enforcement resources.

A staggering proportion of drink-drivers are well over the current limit—40% of those caught by the police are 2.5 times the limit. The proportion of drivers over the limit who are killed is the same. Their behaviour is entrenched and displays a flagrant disregard for the law and the safety of other road users. We have concluded that improving enforcement is likely to have most impact on these dangerous people, and will therefore be the most effective use of scarce resources, rather than lowering the prescribed alcohol limit for driving.

We will implement the following measures, bringing forward legislation where necessary at the earliest opportunity—

revoke the right to opt for a blood test when the evidential breath test result is less than 40% over the limit (the “statutory option”) as this causes delay which results in some offenders avoiding prosecution;

streamline the procedure for testing drink-drivers in hospital;

close a loophole used by high risk offenders to delay their medical examinations;

require drink-drivers who are substantially in excess of the limit to take remedial training and a linked driving assessment—as well as a medical examination—before recovering their licence;

re-launch the drink-drive rehabilitation scheme under which drink-drivers can get the period of their driving disqualification reduced if they complete an approved training course;

approve portable evidential breath testing equipment for the police—and provide for preliminary testing not to be required where evidential testing can be undertaken away from the police station;

approve preliminary drug-testing equipment, initially for use in police stations—and at the roadside as soon as possible;

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delegate to custody nurses the assessment police doctors are now required to make of suspected drug-drivers.

Full impact assessments, including among other things the potential impacts on enforcement and the judicial system, will be prepared in the usual way when legislation is brought forward.

Regional Cycling Projects

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Norman Baker): Today, I am announcing £836,000 of additional funding in this financial year to implement a number of small sustainable projects in the cycle towns and, separately, for three train operating companies to enhance their bike and rail schemes. This exceptional decision has been made possible due to prudent management of departmental expenditure, including additional efficiencies made this year.

The chosen cycle town projects—Blackpool, Bristol, Cambridge, Colchester, Darlington, Derby, Exeter, Leighton Linslade, South Gloucestershire, Southend, Shrewsbury Woking and York—have been assessed as capable of being delivered within the current financial year while offering value-for-money. I believe this additional funding will assist in meeting the overall aims of the project to get more people cycling safely. All the recommended projects fit well with the strategic objectives of the towns concerned and will increase the effectiveness of their existing programmes in generating additional cyclists.

The three train operating companies, Merseyrail, South West Trains and Northern Rail, have worked hard, in partnership with local authorities and other organisations, including Sustrans and Network Rail, to deliver high-quality infrastructure improvements accompanied by promotional activities. This is with the aim of encouraging more cycling to railway stations and to deliver improved integration of bike and rail journeys. This money will enable further enhancements to these schemes.

Today’s announcement complements, and is in addition to, our recently launched local sustainable transport fund which allows local authorities to bid for a share of £560 million over four years, aimed at encouraging sustainable transport solutions, including cycling initiatives, that will create economic growth and cut carbon.

This additional funding demonstrates the Government’s continued commitment to cycling, recognising their potential contribution to reducing carbon emissions, improving health and creating economic growth.

Work and Pensions

Health and Safety System

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Chris Grayling): The Government are committed to a health and safety regime that is fair, balanced and proportionate. Sensible health and safety at work helps to maintain a healthy and productive work force and contributes to economic prosperity. The burden of health and safety red tape has, however, become too great, with too many inspections of relatively low risk and

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good performing work places, frequently poor health and safety advice to businesses from badly qualified consultants, and a complex structure for regulation. To address these issues, the Government are today publishing their plans for the reform of the health and safety system.

We will clamp down on the rogue health and safety advisers who cost industry so much money by providing advice which often bears little relation to the actual requirements of legislation. To achieve this we have launched an official occupational safety and health consultants register for those health and safety practitioners who are properly accredited to one of the professional bodies in the industry. Those who do not have the requisite expertise and experience will be excluded from the register, making it easier for employers to access reliable, reputable advice. I am pleased to announce that the register will be open for the use of employers from today.

We will shift the focus of health and safety activity away from businesses that do the right thing, and instead concentrate efforts on higher risk areas and on dealing with serious breaches of health and safety regulation. Those organisations which pose a lesser risk and which meet their legal responsibilities will be left free of unwarranted scrutiny. This will mean a very substantial drop in the number of health and safety inspections

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carried out in Britain. We will also shift the cost burden of health and safety away from the taxpayer, and instead make those organisations that fail to meet their obligations pay to put things right.

We will seek to clarify and simplify health and safety legislation, and in doing so ease the burden on business. We are today launching new “Health and Safety Made Simple” guidance to provide lower-risk small and medium-sized businesses with the essential information they need to achieve a basic level of health and safety management in their work place in a single, easy-to-use, package. We are also launching an immediate review of health and safety regulation overseen by an independent advisory panel chaired by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt, director of the King’s centre for risk management at King’s college London. The review will be asked to make recommendations by autumn 2011 for simplifying the current rules. We will also ask the review to consider whether changes to legislation are needed to clarify the position of employers in cases where employees act in a grossly irresponsible manner.

Further details are available on the Department for Work and Pensions website at www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/health-and-safety. The latest progress on the implementation of the recommendations of Lord Young’s report “Common Sense, Common Safety” can be found on the same website.