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Written Ministerial Statements

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Business, Innovation and Skills

Council for Science and Technology

The Minister for Universities and Science (Mr David Willetts): The Prime Minister has appointed 11 new members to the CST. This process was made in accordance with the rules of the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

The CST is the UK Government’s top-level advisory body on science and technology policy issues. It reports directly to the Prime Minister. CST’s remit is to advise the Prime Minister on strategic science and technology policy issues that cut across the responsibilities of individual Government Departments.

The newly appointed members are:

Professor Keith Burnett FRS—Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield University;

Professor Steven Cowley —CEO of the UKAEA;

Professor Dame Sandra Dawson—Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University;

Mr Rowan Douglas—CEO of Willis Re Global Analytics and Chairman of Willis Research Network;

Dr Paul Golby FREng—Chairman and CEO of E.ON UK and Pro-Chancellor of Aston University;

Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow FMed Sci—Vice-Chancellor University of Kent;

Dr Michael Lynch—CEO of Autonomy Corporation plc;

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell FRS FMedSci—President and Vice-Chancellor of Manchester University;

Mr Colin Smith FREng—Director of Engineering and Technology at Rolls-Royce;

Professor Christopher Snowden FRS FREng—Vice-Chancellor and CEO of Surrey University;

Dr Graham Spittle—Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer Europe at IBM and Chair of the Technology Strategy Board.

Earlier this year the Prime Minister reappointed five CST members:

Professor Dame Janet Finch CBE—Professor of Sociology Manchester University and ex-Vice-Chancellor of Keele University;

Dr Hermann Hauser Hon CBE, FREng—Venture capitalist and co-founder of Amadeus Capital Partners;

Professor Alan Hughes—Director of the Centre for Business Research at Cambridge University;

Professor Michael Sterling FREng—Chairman of the Science and Technology Facilities Council and ex-Vice-Chancellor of Birmingham University;

Sir Mark Walport FMedSci FRS—Director of the Wellcome Trust;

together with four ex officio members:

The President of the Royal Society—Sir Paul Nurse FRS;

The President of the Royal Academy of Engineering—Lord Browne FRS FREng;

The President of the Academy of Medical Sciences—Sir John Bell PMedSci FRS Hon FREng;

The President of the British Academy—Sir Adam Roberts FBA.

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The Prime Minister also reappointed Professor Dame Janet Finch as independent co-chair of CST for one year, alongside the Government’s chief scientific adviser, currently Professor Sir John Beddington.

Full details of CST’s terms of reference and organisation can be found at http://www.bis.gov.uk/cst.

Communities and Local Government

Travellers Caravan Count

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Andrew Stunell): The Government have, on 29 June, published the “Count of Gypsy and Traveller Caravans undertaken on 27 January 2011”, along with experimental statistics on the count of Travelling Showpeople caravans.

Copies have been placed in the Library of the House and can be accessed via the Department for Communities and Local Government website at:



Armed Forces (Council Tax Relief)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Andrew Robathan): Further to the statement made by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Defence on 16 May 2011, Official Report, columns 25-27, regarding the armed forces covenant, I am today announcing the increase of the rate of council tax relief for service personnel deployed on specified operations overseas, from 25% to 50%, to commence from 1 July 2011. This further underlines our commitment to rebuilding the armed forces covenant, that unique bond between the armed forces, the Government and the nation.

Nuclear Deterrent

The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): As part of his statement on the strategic defence and security review (SDSR) on 19 October 2010, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that we had reviewed our deterrence requirements and concluded that we could meet the requirement for an effective and credible deterrent with a smaller number of nuclear weapons and over the next few years would reduce the scale of the current deployed capability, incorporating this reduction into plans for the successor submarine. Therefore, we would reduce the number of warheads on board each submarine from a maximum of 48 to a maximum of 40, reduce the number of operational missiles in the VANGUARD class submarines to no more than eight, and reduce the number of operational warheads from fewer than 160 to no more than 120.

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I wish to inform the House that the programme for implementing the SDSR warhead reductions has commenced: at least one of the VANGUARD class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) now carries a maximum of 40 nuclear warheads. The programme of work to complete these changes across the VANGUARD SSBN fleet will be completed within the constraints of the deterrent’s operational programme. We currently expect completion to be made within this Parliament. The Government do not comment upon the operational programme and therefore updates on this implementation programme will not be given. I will update the House further once the changes have been completed across the current SSBN fleet and the SDSR commitment to reducing our stock of operationally deployed warheads has been fulfilled. On current plans, our expectation is that the subsequent reduction in our total stockpile to no more than 180 warheads will be completed by the mid 2020s.

The early commencement of the programme for these reductions in warheads is a significant step and further demonstrates the Government’s commitment to fulfilling the UK’s disarmament obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The Government remain committed to maintaining the minimum credible deterrent necessary to achieve our deterrence objectives of guaranteeing national security.


New Independent Assessor of Compensation for Miscarriages of Justice

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Kenneth Clarke): I am pleased to announce the appointment of the right hon. Dame Janet Smith DBE as the new independent assessor of miscarriages of justice compensation under section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. The assessor is appointed under schedule 12 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

The assessor’s role is to assess the amount of compensation to be paid under section 133 once Ministers have decided that the eligibility criteria are met. Neither Ministers nor civil servants play any role in the assessment of compensation and I am required by section 133 (4) to accept the award made by the assessor. The assessor plays no role in deciding whether an applicant is eligible under section 133.

Dame Janet, who retired as an Appeal Court judge in May, replaces Lord Brennan of Bibury QC who has held the position since 27 July 2001 and whose term of office comes to an end on 26 July 2011. Lord Brennan indicated that he did not wish to be appointed for a further term. Dame Janet will take up her appointment on 1 July, which will initially be for two years.

The assessor is an “office holder” rather than a public appointment so the appointment rules of the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA) are not required to be followed.

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However, in considering who should be appointed to the role, I consulted the Lord Chief Justice and he recommended Dame Janet. I was delighted to accept his recommendation.

Dame Janet is eminently qualified for the role. She has extensive experience of the assessment of damages in personal injury litigation. As a former lady justice of appeal she will continue the robust independence which her predecessors have brought to the role. As well as my full confidence, she will have the confidence of applicants and their representatives.

Finally, I am extremely grateful to Lord Brennan for the very high level of service he has provided over the past 10 years.

Ministerial Correction

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Kenneth Clarke): I refer to the debate following my oral statement on sentencing reform and legal aid, 21 June 2011, Official Report, column 165.

In my response to the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), regarding a reduction in foreign national prisoners at column 173, I gave an indicative comparative figure stating that there are now 1,000 fewer FNPs than when the previous Government left office.

I would like to correct the information I gave. As of 31 March 2011, there were 10,745 FNPs—622 fewer than on 31 March 2010, when there were 11,367 FNPs.

As I said in the debate, the Ministry of Justice continues to work with the UK Border Agency to remove FNPs at the earliest possible opportunity.

In my response to the hon. Member for Easington (Grahame M. Morris), on the issue of legal aid funding for clinical negligence claims at column 174, I stated that 80% of clinical negligence cases are currently undertaken on a no win, no fee basis.

I would like to correct the information I gave. The precise data I now have, from the NHS Litigation Authority, show that in 2008-09 5,245 claims for clinical negligence were received by the NHSLA. Of the 3,993 clinical negligence cases where the type of funding was known, 1,821 (46% of cases where funding type was known) were funded by no win, no fee conditional fee agreements, 1,145 (29%) were funded by legal aid, 632 (16%) were self-funded, and 395 (10%) were funded by “before the event” legal expenses insurance. I understand from the NHSLA that the cases where funding type was not known are unlikely to be CFA-funded. Although the NHSLA covers clinical negligence cases against NHS bodies in England only, there is no reason to suggest that the breakdown of funding arrangements for all clinical negligence cases in England and Wales is significantly different.