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Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Business, Innovation and Skills

Intellectual Property Office (Public Targets)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Mr Edward Davey): My noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Baroness Wilcox, has today made the following statement.

The Intellectual Property Office promotes innovation by providing a clear, accessible and widely understood IP system, which enables the economy and society to benefit from knowledge and ideas.

I have set the Intellectual Property Office the following targets for 2010-11:


Proposals for enhanced co-operation on the EU patent and court are adopted in line with UK objectives.

Rights granting

Efficiently deliver high-quality patents, so that:

90% of patent search reports are issued within four months of request; and

all outstanding patent examinations older than 42 months are cleared by the end of March 2012.

Efficiently deliver high-quality trade marks and registered designs, so that:

applications for trade marks, for which we have not raised any issues and no opposition has been filed, are registered within four months in 85% of cases, within five months in 90% of cases, and within six months In 95% of cases;

the correct decision on registration is made in at least 99% of trade mark applications; and

95% of design applications, for which we have not raised any issues, are registered within one month.

Targeted business support

Deliver business outreach that enables 85% of its recipients to improve the IP performance of their businesses or the businesses they advise.

IPO customers will give an average score of eight out of 10 for the service they receive.

Enablers: valu e for money and people development

Achieve a return on capital employed of 4%.

In addition to the return on capital employed, deliver an efficiency gain of 3.5%.

Improve the IPO’s engagement index so that our score is at least equal to that of the civil service 2011 benchmark.

In November 2010, the Prime Minister announced an independent review of how the intellectual property framework supports growth and innovation. This will report in April 2011. Once it has reported, I will consider whether to set the Intellectual Property Office any further targets for 2011-12.

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Unfunded Public Service Pension Contributions

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Danny Alexander): The Government announced in spending review 2010 that they would accept the recommendation of the interim report of Lord Hutton’s Independent Public Services Pensions Commission to review the discount rate used to set unfunded public service pension contributions. HM Treasury launched its consultation on the discount rate in December 2010, and this closed on 3 March 2011.

A new discount rate was announced at the 2011 Budget and today the Government publish their summary of responses.

On the basis of the submissions put forward in the consultation, the Government have decided that the discount rate used to set unfunded public service pension contributions will be in line with long-term expectations of GDP growth. The summary of responses document has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and can be found at: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/consult_unfunded_pensions.htm.

Communities and Local Government

Abolition of Regional Strategies

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Robert Neill): The coalition Government are committed to enabling the abolition of regional strategies through the Localism Bill, in order to return decision-making powers in housing and planning to local authorities and the communities they serve.

I wish to inform the House that the Government have decided to carry out an environmental assessment of the revocation of the regional strategies.

I make it clear that the Government are undertaking this assessment on a voluntary basis. We consider that it would be useful to assess whether there are any significant environmental effects of revoking each regional strategy.

We intend to compile an environmental report for each region and to consult on it in line with the process laid down in the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004. Local authorities and others should find this helpful in identifying issues relevant to their areas and policies or initiatives in the regional strategies which are no longer in effect, and it should also help them decide how to proceed with preparing or reviewing their own plans.

This process of environmental assessment will be carried out during the passage of the Bill through Parliament. Subject to Royal Assent, the revocation of each individual regional strategy will be commenced after the assessment process has been completed.

Deputy Prime Minister

Social Mobility Strategy

The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Nick Clegg): Today I am launching a cross-Government strategy to improve social mobility, “Opening Doors, Breaking Barriers: A

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Strategy for Social Mobility”. This has been overseen by the informal ministerial group on social mobility, which I chair, and in close collaboration with key Departments. I am placing copies in the Libraries of both Houses and making it available on the Cabinet Office website (www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk).

Fairness is a fundamental value of the coalition Government. A fair society is an open society, in which everyone is free to flourish and rise, regardless of the circumstances of their birth. This strategy sets out our vision for a socially mobile society—the principal objective of the coalition Government’s social policy.

In Britain today, the income and social class of parents continues to have a huge bearing on a child’s chances. Gaps in development between children from different backgrounds can be detected even at birth. These gaps grow rapidly during the early years, and widen throughout school, such that only one in five young people from the poorest families achieve five good GCSEs, including English and maths, compared with three quarters from the richest families. This has a major impact on participation in further and higher education, and success in the labour market. These cycles of disadvantage are repeated across generations. This is not only a source of great unfairness, but also hinders our national prosperity as talented individuals are denied the opportunity to develop their full potential.

This strategy takes a comprehensive life cycle approach. A person’s fortunes should not be determined by the age of five, 15 or 30. By providing help and support at every stage we aim to narrow the gaps and provide second chances. The strategy seeks to improve social mobility at each life stage: the foundation years (ages 0-5), school years (ages 5-16), transition years (ages 16-24) and adulthood (ages 24 and over).

In the foundation years, we welcome the independent reviews carried out by the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field), the hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) and Dame Clare Tickell. Our approach puts supporting parents and providing affordable, high-quality early education and care centre stage. We are maintaining Sure Start children’s centres, recruiting thousands more health visitors, expanding family nurse partnerships, and investing in free pre-school education for all disadvantaged two-year-olds, on top of existing provision for all three and four-year-olds.

During the school years, our school reforms—giving schools greater freedom, raising the status and quality of teaching, improving accountability and transparency—will raise standards in all schools, while the pupil premium will provide an extra £2.5 billion a year to radically improve educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged pupils. We will also raise aspiration through high-quality advice and guidance, much greater engagement between schools, businesses, and universities and wider society.

For young people we will look to narrow gaps in educational attainment, raising the participation age and increasing funding for apprenticeships, while ensuring fairer access to higher education and developing a new strategy to increase participation in education and training.

During adulthood, we will continue to encourage fair access to jobs, with the civil service leading by example and a new business compact on social mobility, asking business to do their bit. At the same time, we will maintain second chances to train and lifelong learning

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opportunities, improve work incentives through our welfare reforms, support lower and middle-income earners through our goal of raising the personal allowance to £10,000, and help people to build up assets.

Crucially, our strategy sets out a clear framework for holding the Government to account on our ambitious proposals. We are creating a new statutory Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, to assess progress on child poverty and social mobility, hold Government and others to account and act as an advocate for change.

We have developed a set of high-level indicators which will be used to track progress. And for the first time, as Departments develop new policies, they will need to consider the impact on social mobility.

I will continue to chair a group of key Ministers to maintain the momentum for change.

We recognise that Government alone cannot single-handedly create a fairer society—this is a task for parents, communities, businesses, professions, and voluntary organisations too. However, the coalition Government will help to create a fair and open society where opportunity is shared and everyone can flourish.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Water Affordability (Consultation)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Richard Benyon): I am pleased to announce that DEFRA has today published its consultation on measures to assist households who face water affordability pressures and households in areas with particularly high water bills, such as the south-west.

The consultation follows publication of Anna Walker’s independent review of charging for household water and sewerage services and the pledge made in the Budget to consult on proposals to address water affordability around reforms to the existing WaterSure scheme, the approach to company social tariffs and options for additional Government spending to provide further support.

The consultation invites views on replacing the current cap on bills under WaterSure with the lower of the company average metered bill or the national average metered bill. This would deliver substantial reductions in the bills of WaterSure recipients in areas where water bills are relatively high. In addition, it invites views on meeting the cost of WaterSure in the future from public expenditure rather than the current system of meeting WaterSure through the bills of individual water customers. It also paves the way for the introduction of company social tariffs to assist households who would struggle to pay their bills in full by asking a number of questions to help shape the Government’s forthcoming guidance on company social tariffs.

The consultation also invites views on options that could reduce the bills of all household customers of South West Water and options that could target assistance towards low-income households in the region. These include the proposed changes to WaterSure and rebalancing

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sewerage charges to reduce all household bills or to fund a company social tariff (although this would be a decision for South West Water). Other options include an annual payment from the Government to reduce household bills in recognition of the disproportionately high bills paid by South West Water customers as a result of unforeseen infrastructure expenditure at the time of privatisation and an option of match funding from the Government for any company social tariff that South West Water chooses to bring forward.

Given that there is only a limited amount of public expenditure available to fund water affordability options, there is a balance to be struck when allocating this expenditure between assisting all household customers of South West Water on fairness grounds and helping low-income households in the region with acute water affordability problems. The Government will explore options to use additional public expenditure to deliver a modest reduction in bills for all households in the region alongside options to target households with specific affordability problems, both inside and outside the south-west.

The consultation covers England only and the deadline for responses is 17 June. The consultation is available at: www.defra.gov.uk/consult/water-affordability-1104/

and I will arrange for copies to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. We will set out our policy proposals in our forthcoming Water White Paper.

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mrs Caroline Spelman): My noble Friend Lord Henley represented the United Kingdom at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels on 17 March.

The meeting began with one minute’s silence in respect of the suffering in Japan.

Potential health implications for the EU as a consequence of the Japanese earthquake and subsequent nuclear incidents were discussed. The Commission confirmed it was monitoring events in Japan closely, but that currently they posed no risk to the health of EU citizens. Member states will be kept informed of any developments through the usual EU food safety rapid notification systems.

The presidency presented draft conclusions on CAP reform to the Council, in which it had made efforts to accommodate member states’ concerns and the text was much improved. However a number of countries, including the UK, retained serious reservations on the draft conclusions for a variety of different, and sometimes conflicting, reasons; in the UK’s case, because of concerns that the text did not make sufficiently clear the need for budgetary restraint and was insufficiently ambitious on the need for reform of direct payments. The presidency attempted to find further compromise text changes, but disappointingly focused only on the issue of allocation of resources between the older and newer member states. The presidency concluded that it could not find consensus in the Council and adopted the amended text as presidency conclusions, supported by a majority of member states. The conclusions were not supported by the UK, Sweden, Latvia, Denmark, Estonia, Malta, Greece and Lithuania.

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The proposed authorisation of three genetically modified crops (one cotton and two maize) was referred to Council. The Commission clarified that these were not intended for cultivation within the EU and that the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) opinion had been favourable. The United Kingdom lifted its parliamentary scrutiny reserve and voted in favour. The Commission agreed to consider a request from Denmark for a proposal to address the issue of residues in foodstuffs. The presidency concluded that the Commission could finalise their decision-making process as there was no clear qualified majority in favour or against any of the proposals.

The Commission presented the findings from the dairy quarterly report showing a continuing positive trend for dairy in the EU. An extended advisory group will meet before the end of June and publish its outcomes on the Commission’s report recommendations on the soft-landing for the dairy sector.

There were four items under other business:

ED policy on animal welfare. The Commission explained that it was considering a range of options for future EU animal welfare policy; it hoped to publish a new strategy in December 2011. A report on the welfare of animals during transport will be published in October 2011.

The Netherlands introduced a note calling for an ambitious trade deal with Mercosur, but noted the importance of EU agricultural interests. The Commission reaffirmed its commitment to transparency in negotiations and to a balanced deal which must comprise a reciprocal level of ambition, be consistent with CAP reform objectives and in which the EU should not pay twice.

The Netherlands presented a paper, co-sponsored by nearly all member states, on CAP simplification, identifying principles which should inform the CAP post-2013. The Commission said that the cost of the future CAP must be proportional to its objectives and that all future measures must be based on both an impact assessment and the collective appetite for risk.

Spain (supported by Cyprus, Italy, Greece, France, Poland and Portugal) called for private storage aid to be triggered in order to deal with the problem of surplus olive oil production that had lowered market prices. The Commission pointed out that there had to be either evidence of serious market disruption, or that the market price had fallen below the trigger point, before such measures could be taken. However it was monitoring the market and will discuss matters at the next examination committee.

Ministers discussed institutional questions in relation to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, including the forthcoming election of a new director general, over lunch. The presidency noted that decisions on this appointment were in member states competence.

Home Department

Police Leadership and Training Review

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): I am today placing in the Library of the House the report of the review of police leadership and training undertaken by Peter Neyroud QPM.

Last year I asked Peter Neyroud to undertake a review of police leadership and training, and I am very grateful to him for his work.

Effective leadership and development is essential in equipping the police to fight crime and deliver the service the public expect. We need to ensure that future generations of police leaders are able crime fighters.

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The report contains a number of proposals and recommendations including the creation of a chartered professional body for policing that would set standards and ensure accreditation of these, a new delivery body for police leadership and training and a new qualifications framework for policing.

I will consider the review’s conclusions and recommendations very carefully with the police service and other interested parties. I am today launching a public consultation on how police leadership and training could be delivered in the future and the review’s proposals for this. Details of the public consultation can be found on the Home Office website and copies will also be placed in the Library of the House.

International Development

Conflict Resources (2011-12)

The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr Andrew Mitchell): I, together with my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and the Secretary of State for Defence, wish to inform the House about our plans for funding conflict prevention, stabilisation, and peacekeeping activities for financial year 2011-12.

The strategic defence and security review (SDSR) announced that we will increase significantly our support to conflict prevention and poverty reduction, focusing on tackling threats at source in those fragile and conflict-affected countries where the risks are high, our interests are most at stake, and where we know we can have an impact. We have therefore agreed to an increase in the size of the conflict pool over the course of the next spending review period. The conflict pool is the mechanism by which the Government allocate resources for discretionary conflict prevention, stabilisation, and peacekeeping activities and is managed jointly by the Department for International Development, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Ministry of Defence.

We will increase the conflict pool’s programme resources from £229 million this financial year to £256 million in FY 2011-12 and annually thereafter to £309 million in FY 2014-15. This excludes the net additional cost of military operations in Afghanistan where separate arrangements are in place to draw on the Treasury reserve.

As usual, the settlement provides a mix of official development assistance (ODA) funding and non-ODA resources. This will enable the conflict pool to bring together HMG’s development, defence, and diplomacy capabilities in an integrated approach to tackling instability and conflict overseas.

Conflict Resources: Treasury Settlement (£m)
  Y1 Y2 Y3 Y4

2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15

Peacekeeping (non-ODA)





Conflict Pool





Of which:












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Total Settlement





Of which ODA





Of which non-ODA





The Treasury reserve will continue to provide up to £374 million each year for assessed peacekeeping costs (the peacekeeping budget). The conflict pool is the first port of call should these obligatory costs exceed this figure. We have agreed to earmark £76 million from the conflict pool in FY 2011-12 for assessed peacekeeping costs in FY 2011-12 making a total provision of £450 million from which we will meet our obligations on international peacekeeping. We will keep allocations under review and will adjust the balance of resources allocated to the peacekeeping budget and the conflict pool if this is necessary. We will advise the House of any such adjustments to allocations on an annual basis.

The remaining conflict pool balance of £180 million for FY 2011-12 will fund discretionary peacekeeping, conflict prevention, and stabilisation activity. Maintaining a significant investment in these activities during the current financial climate demonstrates the Government’s commitment to tackling instability and conflict at source and is strongly in the UK’s national interest.

From 2011-12 the conflict pool will meet the running costs of the tri-departmental Stabilisation Unit, which supports UK civilian deployments, mainly to Helmand province, Afghanistan but also to southern Sudan, Somalia and other conflict priorities. The conflict pool will also operate a reserve of £7 million to cope with in-year pressures such as the rising costs of international peacekeeping missions and exchange rate fluctuations. The reserve will allow the Government the flexibility to respond to emerging issues. These additional costs in 2011-12, which were not covered by the conflict pool in 2010-11, mean that we have had to make some reductions compared with 2010-11 programme allocations.

Allocations for 2011-12 are based on an assessment of countries at risk of instability where UK national interests are most engaged.

PROGRAMME FY 2011-12 (£ million)



South Asia (other than Afghanistan)


Middle East




Wider Europe


Strengthening Alliances and Partnerships


Stabilisation Unit






The allocation for Afghanistan will be maintained at £68.5 million and over 70% of the south Asia allocation of £15.5 million will be committed to Pakistan reflecting the importance of these countries to the UK’s national security interests. A large proportion of Afghanistan’s resources will continue to fund stabilisation activities in Helmand province. The south Asia programme will continue to support activities in Sri Lanka and Nepal.

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The allocation of £33.1 million for Africa will maintain current levels of support for conflict prevention activities and discretionary peacekeeping in Somalia and Sudan, and will continue to support activities elsewhere to build African capacity to prevent and manage conflict.

In the middle east the allocation of £11.4 million will be used to maintain current levels of activity in Yemen and Lebanon, and for programmes supporting the middle east peace process. The conflict pool will also continue to support stabilisation activities in Iraq. In addition, we will retain the flexibility to allocate programme funds to respond to new or emerging risks of conflict and instability in the region.

In wider Europe, the allocation of £27.5 million will maintain the UK’s contribution to UN peacekeeping in Cyprus at approximately £18 million, and will continue to support EU and OSCE operations in the Balkans and Caucasus. In recognition of the importance that the National Security Council attaches to wider Europe, the Foreign Secretary has allocated an additional £2 million of programme funds from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s budget for FY 2011-12 to help mitigate the reduction in the programme’s allocation compared with FY 2010-11.

The Strengthening Alliances and Partnerships programme (previously the Strategic Support to International Organisations programme) is allocated £5 million. It will continue to provide support to strengthening UN and other international organisations’ capability to deliver an integrated and effective response to conflict, and assistance to countries in support of security sector reform programmes.

The Stabilisation Unit is the Government’s front-line delivery service for stabilisation in countries affected by conflict, most notably working alongside the UK military in Helmand province. The allocation of £12 million to the unit will support the strengthening of civilian-military stabilisation co-operation and the deployment globally of civilian stabilisation experts from the unit’s thousand-strong pool. It will also enhance the unit’s integrated planning expertise in priority countries.

The SDSR set out our ambitious vision for a results-focused approach to building stability overseas with a strong emphasis on upstream work to prevent conflict and tackle emerging threats to the UK. The forthcoming building stability overseas strategy, which we will publish in spring 2011, will provide the over-arching framework for the UK’s approach. It will enable the National Security Council to decide on strategies, priorities, and resource allocations for the remainder of the spending review period to 2015, focusing on the countries that matter most to the UK and where we can have the greatest impact. We will use the new strategy to guide the allocation of conflict pool resources from 2012-13 onwards.


Probation Service (Revised National Standards)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Crispin Blunt): I am publishing today new national standards for the management of offenders that provide a framework for the purposeful and effective management of offenders subject to community and suspended sentence

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orders and supervision on licence. The standards cover relevant services to victims and courts, the assessment, planning and implementation of community sentences and licences in order to reduce reoffending, giving priority to reducing the risk of reoffending likely to cause serious harm to the public

In a concise format, each of the new standards is supported by NOMS guidance on any minimum mandatory requirements, indications of what is expected from high-quality work by probation practitioners, guidance on effective practice and on the source of more detailed instructions and guidance. I expect practitioners to manage their work with offenders as the risks of each case demands, using their knowledge of the individual case and drawing on their professional training and experience. Local managers will have a significant role to play in assuring the continuing quality of the work within the scope of these standards. When fully implemented alongside quality assurance methods, we expect these changes to drive the active management of offenders to reduce reoffending thereby protecting the public, moving away from a defensive, tick-box approach to following standard processes.

The mandatory requirements governing breach action after failures to comply with community and suspended sentence orders and licences have not been altered. We continue to expect sentences of the court to be properly enforced.

All decisions to terminate orders early, for instance for good progress, continue to require the case to return to court to allow magistrates and judges to make the final decision. We are considering the responses to the Green Paper, “Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing of Offenders”, and Parliament will have the opportunity to examine further the potential for professional discretion for offender managers later in the year.

The new standards are consistent with this Government’s commitment to reducing bureaucracy and allowing practitioners to use their judgment and professional skills. The revisions will enable local innovation in practice, and devolve responsibility for achieving results to individual practitioners and probation trusts.

In consultation with NOMS, probation trusts may adopt the new standards from today, with the expectation that they will have completed their local implementation by March 2012.

The new standards are available online.

Brussels I Regulation

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Jonathan Djanogly): My noble Friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, (Lord McNally), has made the following written ministerial statement:

“The Government have today decided to opt in to the European Commission’s proposal to revise the “Brussels I” regulation (on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters).

The Brussels I regulation establishes common rules governing which country’s courts have jurisdiction in cross-border civil and commercial disputes and provides for the recognition and enforcement of their judgments. It is a bedrock legal instrument underpinning

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international trade. The legal framework it establishes provides the legal certainty necessary to allow trade to be conducted with confidence.

The general consensus among those who most use the current regulation seems to be that it fulfils an essential function and that it generally works well. That is not, however, to say it is perfect. In particular, certain judgments of the European Court of Justice since the regulation was implemented have introduced some uncertainty in its operation and opened the possibility for tactical litigation to be used to frustrate its purpose. The European Commission’s new proposal would repeal and replace the current regulation and attempt to resolve these widely identified problems and make other changes to bring the regulation up to date and most useful.

The House of Lords European Union Committee has recommended a UK opt-in. The matter was this week debated in European Committee B. The Committee agreed the Government’s recommendation that the UK should opt in.”

Northern Ireland

Rosemary Nelson Inquiry

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr Owen Paterson): In my written statement to this House on 14 March 2011, Official Report, column 2WS, I outlined the process to check the report in order to meet the obligations on me in relation to article 2 of the European convention on human rights and national security. I can confirm that this checking process has now been completed and I have received advice from the checking team which confirms that there is nothing in the report which, if published, could breach article 2 of the European convention on human rights by putting the lives or safety of individuals at risk, or put national security at risk. I am therefore satisfied that the report can be published in full. However, publication cannot take place during the election campaign in Northern Ireland. I will therefore make a further announcement confirming the date of publication shortly after the elections have taken place on 5 May.

The report has not been shown to me or to any other Member of the Government, or to any officials except the members of the small team which carried out the checking process. I have not been briefed on the contents of the report, nor have any officials other than those in the checking team. Government will not have sight of the report until the day before it is published.

As with the publication of the Bloody Sunday and Billy Wright inquiry reports, I intend to consider giving advance sight of the report to those who are deemed interested parties to the inquiry, to their legal representatives and to some Members of this House. I have discussed this with the Speaker of the House and he has agreed these advance sight arrangements.

Non-jury Trial (Extension)

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr Owen Paterson): The Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007, which provides for trial on indictment without a jury, is temporary and renewal and will expire at the end of the period of two years unless extended.

While the use of non-jury trials has reduced significantly in recent years, it is necessary to renew the powers in order to protect jurors from any potential risk posed by paramilitary groups.

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It is always the hope and intention to return to jury trial in all cases in Northern Ireland. However, having considered the views of stakeholders and conducted a detailed analysis of the current threat, I believe it is necessary to extend the non-jury trial system at this time, for use in a very small number of cases, to ensure justice is administered fairly.

Therefore I am laying before Parliament an Order to extend the non-jury trial provisions for a further period of two years.

I will, of course, keep the situation under review. The Government remain committed to a return to jury trial in all cases as soon as it is deemed appropriate.


EU Cross-border Road Safety Directive

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mike Penning): I wish to inform the House that the Government have decided not to opt in to the proposed directive facilitating cross-border enforcement in the field of road safety at this stage.

The draft directive intends to improve enforcement of certain road traffic offences committed using vehicles registered in another member state. It aims to facilitate the exchange of registered keeper data between member states’ registration authorities, to help identify offenders.

While broadly supportive of the objectives behind this measure, the UK did not opt in to the directive because, on balance, it did not appear to be in the UK’s interests to do so at this stage.

In the UK we prosecute drivers for road traffic offences, rather than vehicle keepers. Given that the directive only provides for the exchange of vehicle keeper information, we had concerns around our ability to effectively pursue fines against the drivers of the vehicles, in the absence of effective provision to compel foreign registered keepers to disclose who was driving the vehicle when the offence was committed.

We questioned the interaction of the directive with the Prüm Council decisions, which the UK has signed up to, but not yet implemented, (“Prüm” provides for the exchange of keeper data between member states in relation to criminal offences) and were concerned about how the necessary data protection mechanisms could be enforced.

Additionally, we did not consider that a fine would have enough of a deterrent effect to bring about increased behavioural change, since domestically, research shows that it is the fear of points on a licence, or losing the licence altogether which have the main effect on increasing compliance.

We also had concerns around affordability. There would be significant start-up and running costs were our police to use keeper information obtained under the proposed directive for enforcement purposes.

Not opting in at this stage will give us the opportunity to carefully scrutinise the actual costs for set up and implementation of this directive across member states, informing any future decision on a possible post-adoption opt in, which the Government will look at longer-term.

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A decision not to opt in to this particular directive does not prevent the UK from engaging with the EU on other matters relating to road safety nor co-operating on enforcement and exchanging data where there are strong, mutual interests for this. The UK continues to play a prominent part in developing EU strategy in these areas. We also expect that we will be able to continue to play a part in negotiating the final text of the directive.

A copy of this statement has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Work and Pensions

Child Poverty Strategy

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr Iain Duncan Smith): Today, the Government are publishing their first child poverty strategy.

The strategy follows one year on from Royal Assent of the Child Poverty Act 2010 and embodies our determination to tackle child poverty. This strategy, which covers the first strategy period 2011 to 2014, sets out how our radical reform programme will transform people’s lives and break cycles of disadvantage.

Our strategy will protect the most vulnerable, reform welfare to make work pay and help those who are struggling to enter the labour market. For those who are able to work, we will provide help to get the best outcomes for them and their families.

The facts are that despite spending millions of pounds on addressing the issue, in the last several years progress against the child poverty targets has effectively stalled, while contributory factors, like worklessness, were left unchallenged meaning 5.8 million adults are still in poverty. Our strategy will bring together the work of several Departments to help improve children’s life chances. Through the universal credit alone, we expect to lift 350,000 children out of poverty and 200,000 children out of the severest poverty. Overall universal credit will help nearly 1 million people out of poverty and with the Work programme we will see more people break out of the cycle of worklessness and benefit dependency.

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We will do all in our power to increase the life chances of children by supporting vulnerable families through expanding the network of health visitors, targeting child care for the most disadvantaged and investing in early intervention. By increasing standards in education we will raise children’s aspirations and narrow the gaps in attainment, which play such a crucial role in defining children’s future lives.

As part of the strategy, we are announcing that we will establish a child poverty commission with an improved remit, wider and more effective than previously legislated for by the last Government. We have consulted widely to ensure that we get the power of the commission right and we have decided to increase the effectiveness of this body, further strengthening its role in holding the Government to account, while amending its advisory functions. This will be a broader commission which will monitor and drive progress towards ending child poverty, improving life chances, and increasing social mobility. Until the new commission is in place, we will be broadening the current remit of the Government’s independent reviewer on social mobility (Alan Milburn) to include child poverty. Alan Milburn will then be appointed acting chair of the new commission while an open appointment process for the commission takes place. It is our intention to use the Welfare Reform Bill to make the necessary changes to the Child Poverty Act.

Parliamentary Written Answer (Correction)

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Steve Webb): I regret to inform the House that an error has been identified in the written answer 42792—28 February 2011, Official Report, column 200-202W—given to the hon. Member for Westminster North (Ms Buck). I provided her with figures for tenants of registered social landlords. I should have provided her with tenants of registered social landlords and local authority tenants. These two together form social rented accommodation. The full answer given was as follows:

Mr Steve Webb: DWP estimates of the number of households in receipt of housing benefit in social-rented accommodation by the requested family types and age bands are given in the following tables:

Housing benefit c laimants in social rented accommodation, family type, aged under 60: November 2010.
Government Office Region All Single, no child Single with child Couple, no child Couple with child

dependant dependant(s) dependant dependant(s)









North East






North West






Yorkshire and Humberside






East Midlands






West Midlands






East of England












South East






South West


















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60-state Pension age housing benefit claimants, social tenants: November 2010




North East


North West


Yorkshire and Humberside


East Midlands


West Midlands


East of England




South East


South West







1. The figures have been rounded to the nearest 10. Totals may not sum due to rounding.

2. Housing benefit figures exclude any extended payment cases. An extended payment is a payment that may be received for a further four weeks when they start working full-time, work more hours or earn more money.

3. SHBE is a monthly electronic scan of claimant level data direct from local authority computer systems. It replaces quarterly

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aggregate clerical returns. The data are available monthly from November 2008 and November 2010 are the latest available.

4. The age at which women reach state pension age will gradually increase from 60 to 65 between April 2010 and April 2020. This will introduce a small increase to the number of working age benefit recipients and a small reduction to the number of pension age recipients. Figures from May 2010 onwards reflect this change.

5. The data refer to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple.

6. Age groups are based on the age on the count date (second Thursday in the month), of either:

(a) the recipient if they are single, or

(b) the elder of the recipient or partner if claiming as a couple.

7. State pension age (SPA) is 65 years for men and currently 60 for women under the incremental SPA equalisation.


Single Housing Benefit Extract (SHBE)

The correct answer should have been:

DWP estimates of the number of households in receipt of housing benefit in social-rented accommodation by the requested family types and age bands are given in the following tables:

Housing Benefit claimants in social rented accommodation, family type, aged under 60: November 2010.
Government Office Region All Single, no child Single with child Couple, no child Couple with child

dependant dependant(s) dependant dependant(s)







North East






North West






Yorkshire and Humberside






East Midlands






West Midlands






East of England












South East






South West


















Housing Benefit claimants in social rented accommodation, aged 60 - State pension age: November 2010.
Government Office Region Claimants



North East


North West


Yorkshire and Humberside


East Midlands


West Midlands


East of England




South East


South West







1. The figures have been rounded to the nearest 10. Totals may not sum due to rounding.

2. Housing benefit figures exclude any extended payment cases. An extended payment is a payment that may be received for a further four weeks when they start working full-time, work more hours or earn more money.

3. SHBE is a monthly electronic scan of claimant level data direct from local authority computer systems. It replaces quarterly aggregate clerical returns. The data are available monthly from November 2008 and November 2010 are the latest available.

4. The age at which women reach state pension age will gradually increase from 60 to 65 between April 2010 and April 2020. This will introduce a small increase to the number of working age benefit recipients and a small reduction to the number of pension age recipients. Figures from May 2010 onwards reflect this change.

5. The data refer to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple.

6. The under 60 age group is based on the age on the count date (second Thursday in the month), of either:

(a) the recipient if they are single, or

(b) the elder of the recipient or partner if claiming as a couple.

7. The aged 60—state pension age group is based upon all cases where the claimant is female and aged 60 on the count date, or male and aged 60-65, inclusive, on the count date. Cases where the gender of the claimant is not recorded have been excluded from these figures.

Source: Single Housing Benefit Extract (SHBE)