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Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, that response sounds delightfully plausible. The Minister has quoted some statistics, but whenever I have raised this subject in the past, he has said: "That's the trouble. There are no statistics". That is why I propose the pilot. Unless we collect some actual, real statistics, we do not know what we are talking about.
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The Minister has said to me in the past that the Australian figures are worse than ours. That may be so, but how do we know they would not be worse still without the use of these driving plates? This is the whole point. We are proposing a controlled experiment whereby an identified group driving on this basis is compared with a group that had, for example, gone through in the previous three months. You would have a controlled experiment. The Minister said, "We do not think all these young people are breaking the law". I am not suggesting they are, but the Red Cross must have obtained these facts and figures from somewhere. As I said, my brief refers to "many times" but my noble friend Lord Hanningfield said that 17 to 20 year-olds are six times more likely to be involved in an accident. Someone is producing these figures from somewhere.
I am going to hound the Minister between now and the next stage of the Bill because I do not think it should be up to me to bring this matter forward. I have been fortunate to have someone very clever to help me work out the wording of the amendment. But, in the past, if I have had a good idea in an amendment, the Government of whatever colour have taken it away, perhaps altered a capital letter or whatever, and brought it back as a government amendment. It always has to come back as a government amendment and I would be very happy to have it as a government amendment. That is what I shall be talking to the Minister about between now and the next stage of the Bill.
The amendment does not demand that the Minister should introduce the scheme but it enables him to do so. The power to order a pilot scheme would be on the face of the Bill and would enable the Minister to introduce it at whatever time he decided that that should be done. It is an indisputably good system. It is late at night and I do not have other noble Lords here, but I will be coming back to the issue at Third Reading unless I can persuade the Minister to bring something forward himself. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
House adjourned at two minutes past ten o'clock.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education (Bill Rammell) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills chaired the EU Education and Youth Council held in Brussels on 15 November. I represented the UK during the Education Council and Peter Peacock, Scottish Minister for Children and Young People, represented the UK during the Youth Council.
Ministers adopted a partial political agreement on the Lifelong Learning Programme, which involved agreement on all parts of the programme without budgetary implications. Ministers supported a presidency compromise deal to allow member states' involvement in selecting projects that receive over €l million from the programme, and all outstanding reserves were lifted.
Ministers adopted a resolution on enabling higher education to make its full contribution to the Lisbon strategy. There was also an informal discussion on universities over lunch, reflecting on the questions posed at the informal summit at Hampton Court. Member states focused on relations between business and universities and discussed a variety of methods to stimulate these. All agreed on the need to promote excellence but differed on how to achieve it; some favoured competition between universities, others building up high standards for all.
Ministers also adopted conclusions on the role of the development of skills and competences in taking forward the Lisbon agenda, which call for the Commission to look at sectoral approaches to skills development. These conclusions build on discussions at the informal meeting of Education Ministers in London on 12-13 July and are a presidency initiative but fit within the ongoing Education and Training 2010 work programme.
There was an exchange of views on the direction that the Education and Training 2010 work programme should take over the next two years and priorities for the joint interim report 2006. Ministers called for greater emphasis on higher education following the Hampton Court discussions. The importance of teacher training, adult education and reducing school dropout rates was also emphasised. Many agreed that more effective investment in education and
Ministers adopted a partial political agreement on the Youth in Action programme. As with the Lifelong Learning programme this involved agreement on all sections of the text without budgetary implications.
Ministers discussed how the EU should address the concerns of young people and be brought closer to its young citizens. They stressed the need to show young people how they benefit from the EU, through information campaigns, in order to build a sense of European identity. They also stressed the need to involve young people in developing policies that will affect them, and in decision making. Consideration of the needs of disadvantaged young people and the promotion of social inclusion and integration were also highlighted by many. Some delegations suggested establishing EU-wide events involving young people, and the Commissioner mentioned European Youth Week in December as an opportunity for young people to discuss European issues.
The night before the council, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills hosted jointly with Commissioner Figel a meeting of the EU-level social partners and the extended troika of current, previous and future presidencies. This gave the social partners the opportunity to offer their views on the issues to be discussed at the following day's council.
HMRC has today reached a settlement of its claim for compensation from Electronic Data Systems Ltd (EDS) and Electronic Data Systems Corporation for the problems experienced with the IT system developed by EDS to support the launch of the tax credit system in 2003 and the subsequent operation of tax credits.
The aggregate settlement is £71.25 million (seventy-one million, two hundred and fifty thousand pounds) including an up-front payment and payments of additional amounts over time. Details of the settlement are commercially sensitive and therefore bound by a legal confidentiality agreement as is normal in agreements of this nature.
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I have written to the chairman of the Treasury Committee to inform him of this settlement and David Varney, as chairman of HMRC, has written in similar terms to the chairmen of the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Administration Committee. Copies of all three letters have been placed in the House of Commons Library.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Fiona Mactaggart) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I have today placed in the Library of the House copies of the National Reducing Re-Offending Delivery Plan, which the Government are launching today. The delivery plan builds on the Reducing Re-Offending National Action Plan, which was published in July last year and it includes updates on the 60-plus action points that were agreed across government at that time.
The delivery plan charts the real progress the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and its partners have made over the past 18 months in delivering services to offenders that address the reasons why they re-offend. For example, the proportion of offenders released from prison without accommodation to go to has dropped by a third in the past year, the number of educational awards offenders have achieved has risen by 40 per cent, and the number completing a drug treatment course in prison or a drug testing order in the community is up by a third. The delivery plan also sets out the key actions the Government intend to take over the next 18 months towards the delivery of our target of reducing re-offending by 10 per cent by the end of the decade.
The delivery plan acknowledges that this is only the beginning and it reaffirms our commitment to build on what we have put in place. Key to delivering our target will be continuing to work with our partners nationally, but also to develop further regional and local partnerships that include business, civic society and voluntary and faith sector contributors as the most significant driver of progress. The delivery plan will be built on in the NOMS five-year strategy that is being developed.
We will also shortly be publishing, with colleagues in the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Work and Pensions, a Green Paper, Reducing Re-offending Through Skills and Employment. We have been developing proposals for embedding skills and employment for offenders as key tenets of the broader national delivery plan for reducing re-offending which we are announcing today. We look forward to publishing a document which will be the start of a constructive dialogue with our partners about how in the future we can most effectively equip offenders for employment and with the basic skills needed for law-abiding adult life,
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engage employers fully in design and delivery of programmes for offenders and drive improvement in the quality of the programmes offered to offenders.
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