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Today, the Government have laid before Parliament their response to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee's fourth report of Session 200506, on pandemic influenza (Cm 6738). Copies have been placed in the Library.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Baroness Andrews): My honourable friend the Minister for Local Government (Phil Woolas) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
In July 2005 I announced the indicative allocation of £525 million neighbourhood renewal fund (NRF) resources for 200607 to 86 local authority districts. These allocations were subject to satisfactory progress by local strategic partnerships. I can now confirm the final allocations for all 86 LSPs in receipt of NRF for the period 200607.
As I said when we announced the allocation of the NRF last July, we are committed to improving the overall quality of life for people living in our most disadvantaged areas. We want them to share fully in a better society where we see respect for people of all ages, races and faiths and respect for the communities they live in. The funds are to support local authorities, other agencies and communities to work together to achieve these goals.
Ministers have made it clear that the initial allocations were conditional on satisfactory assessment of progress in the autumn. Those LSPs assessed as weak at that time were then required to put in place a robust improvement plan and demonstrate they had the capacity to deliver it by 13 January 2006.
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Overall, local strategic partnerships in these areas have made good progress in achieving neighbourhood renewal objectives since they started in 2001. There is evidence that progress has been made in reducing crime and worklessness and improving health, education and housing. However a small number of these areasthreeneed to improve their performance. The Government are to withhold 10 per cent of the neighbourhood renewal fund allocation for the financial year 200607 from these three LSPs. The three LSPs (local authorities and their partners) and the amounts withheld are:
|Kingston upon Hull||1,284,351|
Each of these LSPs will be required to complete plans to demonstrate how national floor targets are to be met and the gap narrowed between the poorest neighbourhoods and the city average. If these LSPs are able to demonstrate significant improvement by the end of April 2006, the funds withheld will be released during 200607.
|Local Authority||Neighbourhood renewalfund allocation 200607|
|Barking and Dagenham||1,632,728|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||1,000,000|
|Newcastle upon Tyne||7,128,786|
|Redcar and Cleveland||3,396,939|
|Blackburn with Darwen||3,901,342|
|Brighton and Hove||1,801,470|
|Bristol, City of||6,099,490|
|Kingston upon Hull||11,559,159|
|YORKSHIRE & HUMBERSIDE||77,703,114|
Later today I will be introducing a Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill which will, amongst other things, pave the way for future devolution of policing and justice in Northern Ireland. I am introducing this enabling legislation now because I want to send out a clear message: I believe that responsibility for policing and justice in Northern Ireland should properly lie with a Northern Ireland Assembly, directly accountable to the people of Northern Ireland.
Devolution of policing and justice cannot happen until the Assembly is restored and requests devolution of these functions, and until Parliament agrees it. But although this may be some way off, it is important that we start discussing now, with all the parties, how devolution of policing and justice can work most effectively for the people of Northern Ireland.
We need to ensure that we are agreed on the model for the new department or departments. We need to develop a shared understanding of exactly what will be devolved and how it will operate. And we need to make sure that a future Northern Ireland Assembly has the tools they need to deliver policing and justice effectively, for example giving the Assembly the power to raise revenue for policing from a policing precept, as is the case in England, Scotland and Wales.
The discussion paper is intended to initiate and facilitate those discussions. It sets out what the Government believe is a sensible and pragmatic framework for policing and justice in Northern Ireland under an Assembly. It sets out which specific powers we think should be devolved and how these could operate. It also identifies particular areas where further thinking is needed.
The paper is not a blueprint but a discussion document. It is an opportunity for all those with an interest, but particularly the political parties in
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Northern Ireland, to engage with the Government and, together, work out how devolution of policing and justice should work.
The Bill contains a number of provisions in addition to those providing for future devolution of policing and justice, including provisions relating to elections in Northern Ireland, a power to create a wholesale electricity market for the island of Ireland and provision to facilitate the funding of sustainable energy development in Northern Ireland.
The various policies in the Bill have been equality screened to assess whether they impact adversely on any of the nine equality groups in Northern Ireland. The assessment is that no such adverse impact arises. Steps are being taken to draw the Bill and the discussion paper to the attention of representative groups.
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