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Care Services: Fees

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: The fees for care services currently regulated by the National Care Standards Commission (NCSC) will be increased in April 2004. A table of the new fees is as follows.

Regulatory fee income is to assist with the funding of the NCSC, with the intention of achieving full cost recovery after five years, with a review in 2004. The policy on regulatory fees—including the intention of full cost recovery and the consequences for later years—was established following consultation in 2001. The fee structure also makes the costs of regulation

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transparent and borne by those who stand to benefit from more consistent national minimum standards so that pressures will apply to the regulatory process to ensure that it continues to be effective and efficient.

Next April, the Commission for Social Care Inspection will take on the NCSC's role of regulating independent social care providers. The regulation of private and voluntary healthcare providers will move from the NCSC to the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection. The new commissions will further strengthen the system for inspecting those services.

Individual letters are being sent to all providers of care services regulated by the NCSC to notify them about the increases.

Fees for Registration and Inspection 2004–05
(2003–04 fees in brackets)

ServiceUnitCurrent feeNew Fee
Registration fees
Provider registrationhome£1,320 1 £1,584
Provider registration small homes and adult placementshome£360 1 £432
Manager registrationmanager£360 1 £432
Minor variationapplication£60 1 £72
Variation requiring visitapplication£660 1 £792
ServiceFlat rateApproved Place from 4th–29thApproved place over 30th
Annual fees
Care homes and hospices£216 (£180)£72 (£60)£72 (£60)
Small care homes and adult placements£144 (£120)n/an/a
Acute and mental health hospitals£3,600 (£3,000)£144 (£120)£72 (£60)
Prescribed techniques clinics£1,080 (£900)£144 (£120)£72 (£60)
Independent hospital£1,440 (£1,200)£144 (£120)£72 (£60)
Other independent healthcare£1,440 (£1,200)n/an/a
Children's homes£720 (£600)£72 (£60)£72 (£60)
Small children's homes£720 (£600)n/an/a
Boarding schools and further education£360 (£300)£21.60 (£18)£10.80 (£9)
Residential special schools£576 (£480)£57.60 (£48)£28.80 (£24)
Fostering agencies and local authorities£1,440 (£1,200)n/an/a
Residential family centres£480 (£400)£60 (£50)£60 (£50)
Domiciliary care agencies£900 (£750)n/an/a
Small domiciliary care agencies£450 (£375)n/an/a
Nurses agencies£600 (£500)n/an/a
Voluntary adoption agencies£600 (£500)n/an/a
Voluntary adoption agency branches£300 (£250)n/an/a
Small nurses agencies£300 (£250)n/an/a

(1)Domiciliary care agencies, voluntary adoption agencies, nurse agencies and residential family centres pay 2003–04 prices.

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Game Licences

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a large number of post offices are unable to supply game licences; and whether this will be taken into account in decisions on the prosecution of those who have been unable to obtain a licence and who are then found to be shooting without a game licence.[HL200]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The Post Office has informed the department that this autumn's supply problems have been resolved and there are now adequate stocks of all game licences to meet anticipated demand. All post offices are able to arrange the issue of a game licence but not all offices stock licences on their premises. This is an operational matter for individual post offices and would normally reflect past demand. Large, directly managed post offices are most likely to keep stocks of licences. Location details of these offices can be obtained using the Post Office Helpline (0845 722 3344). The Post Office, in liaison with Defra officials, is currently exploring options for improving the availability of licences in the future. The Game Licences Act 1860 (Section 4) requires that every person taking or killing game, or assisting in such activities, takes out a licence to kill game under this Act. The penalty for acting without a valid licence is level 2 on the standard scale. Whether or not extenuating factors, such as the availability of licences, are taken into account during the legal process is a matter for the police, Crown Prosecution Service and, ultimately, the courts to decide.

Non-departmental Public Bodies: Representations on Public Policy

Lord Norton of Louth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What limitations there are, if any, on non-departmental public bodies making representations to government departments on issues of public policy.[HL145]

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Lord Bassam of Brighton: There are no restrictions on non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) making representations on matters within their remit to government departments.

Government Websites

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to ensure that central and local government websites comply with their guidelines for interoperability and accessibility; and[HL149]

    How they respond to the recent survey from Business2WWW suggesting that all but five of 62 government websites tested failed to comply with government standards on metadata and the e-Government Metadata Framework; and[HL150]

    How they respond to the recent survey from Business2WWW suggesting that 58 of 62 government websites tested failed to meet the Priority 1 requirements; and[HL151]

    How they respond to the recent survey from Business2WWW suggesting that the websites of the Prime Minister, the Home Office, the Community Legal Service and others were all less than 1 per cent compliant with current guidelines for access to the disabled.[HL152]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Evaluating the accessibility of a website is a complex issue and experts in this area, such as the RNIB, City University and AbilityNet advise that it cannot be undertaken by automated testing alone. The e-Envoy has recently had discussions with Business2WWW about how their latest automated testing is undertaken and upon what criteria the reported results are based. The e-government Metadata Framework was superseded by the e-Government Metadata Standard in 2001 (e-GMS). e-GMS is mandatory for new public sector IT systems and the number of sites meeting the standard will therefore improve as sites are replaced or upgraded. The e-Envoy encourages compliance through provision of guidance and good practice. Compliance is the responsibility of individual departments and local services and is self-regulatory through the use of National Computing Centre services and the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Citizenship Ceremonies

Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals they have on the form and content of citizenship ceremonies.[HL322]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The White Paper, Secure Borders, Safe Haven: Integration with Diversity in Modern Britain, published in February 2002, set out the Government's proposals for enhancing the

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significance of the acquisition of British citizenship. The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 duly included provisions which, when brought into force at the start of 2004, will require all adult applicants for British citizenship to take an Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen and Pledge of Loyalty to the United Kingdom at a citizenship ceremony. On 25 July we published a consultation document which set out the Government's provisional views on the form and content of that citizenship ceremony. The 12-week period of consultation closed on 17 October and 145 responses were received. Broadly, the responses supported the proposal that national symbols such as the Union flag and national anthem should feature in ceremonies throughout the United Kingdom and that these should be augmented with local features and symbols. A small minority of responses did not support the idea. The Government themselves remain strongly of the view that it would be right for these United Kingdom symbols to be used, given that the citizenship being bestowed is that of the United Kingdom as a whole. Other countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand certainly believe it appropriate to display national symbols at these events. We would encourage those who disagree to reflect further and to consider this issue from the viewpoint of the new citizens and what they might reasonably expect of a British citizenship ceremony, rather than impose their own views on what is appropriate. There was a positive response to the suggestion that local authorities might wish to impart their own flavour on ceremonies taking place in their area, and to the notion that prominent and recognised members of the local community might take part in ceremonies and formally welcome new citizens to their area. The suggestions on what form this local flavour might take recognised the importance of local adaptations not detracting from the dignified, celebratory and meaningful nature that government intend for citizenship ceremonies. Many areas proposed that they would involve local schools and community groups in their ceremonies. In terms of the musical content of ceremonies, the majority supported the playing of the national anthem immediately after the taking of the oath and pledge. Many areas said that they also intended to play recognised and appropriate pieces of music as new citizens entered and left the ceremony. A list will be given in the guidance for local authorities and registrars. The consultation document proposed a form of words for the ceremony welcome speech and for the address given by the local dignitary. The majority of responses supported the notion of standardisation of the main portions of these addresses, but said that they would ensure that any local additions did not detract from the formal welcome to both the UK and the local area. In terms of a commemorative gift, most thought that a commemorative certificate bearing that area's coat of arms or logo would be most appropriate. There

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was a unanimous view that any gift given must be meaningful of the event. A small percentage of respondents took the view that there was no need for a gift as such in that the grant of citizenship was in itself a gift. The Government are grateful to all of those individuals and organisations who took the time to read and respond to this document. The nature of the comments give us reason to believe that our proposals carry general suppport. We shall therefore proceed broadly in line with the format set out in the consultation document. The cost of the ceremonies will be included in an increased nationality fee, the details of which have been included in a statutory instrument to be laid today, which will mean no additional charge to the taxpayer. Details are in the attached table.

Type of ProvisonCurrent FeeProposed 01/01/04Ceremony FeeTotal 01/01/04
6(1) Single150.00150.0068.00218.00
6(1) Joint150.00150.00136.00286.00
6(2) 120.00146.0068.00214.00
Reg. Adult120.0085.0068.00153.00
Reg. Minor Single120.00144.00144.00
Reg. Minor Multiple120.00144.00144.00

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