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Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Cabinet Office

UK Statistics Authority (Contingencies Fund)

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr Nick Hurd): The Cabinet Office wishes to report that a cash advance from the Contingencies Fund has been sought for the UK Statistics Authority (referred to as the Statistics Board in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007). The advance is needed to meet an urgent cash requirement on existing services pending parliamentary approval of the 2012-13 supplementary estimate. The supplementary estimate seeks an increase in net cash requirement in order to settle material liabilities recognised in the prior year. Parliamentary approval for additional cash of £16 million will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the UK Statistics Authority. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £6 million will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

The advance will be repaid upon Royal Assent of the Supply and Appropriation Bill.

A copy of the final evidence will be placed in the Library of the House and will be available at: www.gov.uk.

Treasury

ECOFIN

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr George Osborne): A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council will be held in Brussels on 5 March 2013. We expect the following items to be on the agenda and discussed:

Revised capital requirements rules (CRDIV)

The presidency will seek Ministers’ political endorsement of a revised CRDIV package.

VAT fraud: quick reaction mechanism (VAT QRM)

Ministers will discuss political guidelines. The UK will continue to stress the importance of decisions on tax matters being made by the Council and being subject to unanimity.

Economic governance two pack

The presidency will update Ministers on the agreement reached with the European Parliament.

Current legislative proposals

The presidency will update Council on revised rules for markets in financial instruments (MiFID), the proposed single supervisory mechanism (SSM), the bank recovery and resolution directive (RRD) and the mortgage credit directive.

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European semester: discussion of certain thematic issuesreport on quality of public expenditure

Ministers will hold an exchange of views and will seek to agree Council conclusions.

Closer EMU: response to President of the European Council

Ministers will hold an exchange of views in order to prepare a contribution to the European Council’s discussions on closer EMU integration, expected in June.

Follow-up to G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and governors in Moscow, 15-16 February 2013

The presidency and the Commission will update Ministers.

Health

Reducing Preventable Mortality

The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Jeremy Hunt): Today, I am publishing “Living Well for Longer: A call to action to reduce avoidable premature mortality”. This document focuses attention on premature mortality and challenges the health and care system to do something about it.

Despite the great strides that have been made in improving the health of the nation in recent decades, far too many people are dying too young from diseases that are largely preventable. We want England to be among the best in Europe when it comes to tackling the leading causes of early death, starting with the five big killer diseases—cancer, heart, stroke, respiratory and liver disease. If everyone had access to the best diagnosis and treatment that is already available, we could avoid an extra 30,000 deaths per year by 2020.

Our ambition to reduce our rates of premature mortality to the level of our European peers is ambitious and challenging. Government will play their part but cannot do this alone. It will take concerted action across the health and care system locally and nationally. The call to action therefore poses some challenging questions and is designed to generate open and honest debate, leading to action, to see what more we collectively can do to reduce premature mortality. If we as a country are to tackle the challenge we face, we need to make improvements across the spectrum of prevention, early diagnosis and treatment.

“Living Well for Longer” also sets out actions to drive transparency and accountability. I want every locality in the new system to understand how it compares for health outcomes with similar areas in England and how England compares across Europe. Knowing how well we are doing is critical to driving improvement.

My Department has worked closely with partners across the health and care system, including the statutory and third sector, in developing this call to action. We will bring these partners together over the coming months and years to see how well we are doing in reducing premature mortality, and to see what more we can do together.

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We are also publishing today a “Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes Strategy”. This strategy will contribute to delivery of improved mortality rates by providing advice to local authority and NHS commissioners and providers about actions in relation to cardiovascular disease that can help deliver our ambition.

Copies of “Living Well for Longer: A call to action to reduce avoidable premature mortality” and of the “Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes Strategy” have been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.

The documents are also available at: www.dh.gov.uk/health/2013/03/mortality.

Home Department

Crime Outcomes Recording Framework

The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice (Damian Green): As part of the Government’s commitment to increasing democratic accountability and reducing bureaucratic accountability, we have consulted on proposals to broaden the current “sanction detections” framework to better reflect all of the work that the police do to solve and resolve crime in national statistics.

A revised framework for recorded crime outcomes will support police officers to use their professional judgment to ensure a just and timely outcome which reflects the harm to the victim, the seriousness of the behaviour, the impact on the community, and which deters future offending. Furthermore, it will also give the public more detailed information about the work their police forces are doing and so further empower local communities to hold their chief officer and police and crime commissioner to account for tackling crime locally.

The consultation closed on 7 December 2012, and we received 65 responses. Responses were overwhelmingly supportive of the new proposals, and provided valuable insight into their potential impact.

In response to the consultation the Government will:

Replace the term “sanction detections” with “crime outcomes” (April 2013).

Introduce “community resolution” as a formal outcome category (April 2013).

Broaden the existing “no further action” category following further consultation (April 2014).

The Government will be publishing their detailed response to the consultation on 5 March 2013 and copies of this document will be placed in the House Library and on the Home Office website at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/consultations/.

Justice

Prison Service Pay Review Body

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Jeremy Wright): I am pleased to announce that the Prime Minister has appointed Jan Parkinson, Esmond Lindop, Karen Heaton and Peter Maddison, and re-appointed Professor John Beath as members of the

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Prison Service Pay Review Body, all for three years and commencing March 2013. The appointments have been conducted in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ code of practice on appointments to public bodies.

Legal Aid Reform

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Grayling): The Chancellor’s autumn statement made it clear that further savings must be found from all areas of public expenditure.

Through the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 we have already reduced what we spend on legal aid for civil cases by targeting resources to those most in need. Criminal defence represents by far the largest element of our remaining legal aid spend, where we are still spending over a billion pounds a year. We are committed to ensuring that the criminal legal aid scheme of the future continues to protect people’s fundamental right to a defence. However, against a background of continuing financial challenge, we need to ensure we target our resources in that area too.

We are working to improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system as a whole, to move towards swifter resolution of cases before the courts.

We also need to look again at ensuring that defendants who can afford to contribute to their legal costs do so and that the legal aid system commands the confidence of the public. We are already taking steps in this regard to strengthen the effectiveness of the Crown court means-testing scheme which, from July 2013, will include powers to seize and if necessary sell a defendant’s motor vehicle if subsequently convicted. This is one of a raft of measures we are announcing today to help ensure that defendants contribute towards the cost of their otherwise taxpayer-funded defence.

In addition, we must consider how to achieve best value for money in the way we procure legal aid. We have already made clear our intention to introduce price competition in the criminal legal aid market, as the best way to ensure long-term sustainability and value for money. In a written ministerial statement laid on 1 December 2011, Official Report, column 74WS, we set out our intention to consult on proposals for competitive tendering in autumn 2013. Given the need to achieve savings as quickly as possible, we have decided to accelerate that timetable.

We therefore intend to publish an eight-week consultation on further reforms to legal aid in April 2013, which will include proposals to both improve the credibility of the legal aid scheme and reduce its cost to the taxpayer—one of these being price competition in criminal legal aid.

The revised indicative timetable for the development and implementation of our competition strategy is, subject to the outcome of consultation, as follows:

Consultation paper published—April 2013

Tender opens in competition areas—autumn 2013

First contracts go live—autumn 2014

The new contracts that we anticipate will be awarded in autumn 2014 will require contract holders to work digitally as part of the move to a digital criminal justice system.