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Lord McKenzie of Luton: I am grateful to the noble Lord for not accepting my invitation to withdraw the amendment and for speaking to it. We share the
 
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concerns about identity theft that have been expressed, but we do not think that allocating a number to every registered audit firm would be particularly helpful. It is unlikely to make it any easier to root out false claims that a particular firm has audited a company's accounts. The idea is that unique identifiers will be available to the public; they will not be like some authentication code or password used in electronic communications. We will of course give some thought to whether there is anything else we can do to address the problem that has been identified, either in the legislation or on an administrative level, but we do not think that the amendment would be very helpful in that regard.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: I accept the point that the Minister made. This is something that the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales is anxious about. I shall contact it and read the Minister's comments, and we shall see if we want to return to the matter. It may be that in the mean time the Minister will be able to come up with some brilliant scheme that will address the issue that is of concern to the institute—namely, that of auditor identity theft, which has considerable impact with regard to the standing of companies seeking to use an audit firm to boost its position.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. A191 not moved.]

Lord McKenzie of Luton moved Amendment No. A191A:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 694, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 695 to 698 agreed to.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: This may be a convenient moment for the Committee to adjourn until Thursday at two o'clock.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: The Committee stands adjourned until Thursday.

Written Statements

Tuesday 28 March 2006


 
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Benefit Fraud Inspectorate Reports

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Plaskitt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On behalf of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the BFI inspection reports on the following councils were published today: Ceredigion County Council, Clackmannanshire Council, Durham City Council, Havant Borough Council, the Highland Council (two separate reports), the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council, Thurrock Borough Council, West Devon Borough Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council. Copies have been placed in the Library.

The BFI reports detail a range of strengths and weaknesses in the housing benefit services provided by councils and make recommendations to improve the security and efficiency of benefit delivery.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State is considering the reports and may ask the councils for proposals in response to BFI's findings.

Climate Change

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Bach): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Margaret Beckett) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce that the Government and the devolved Administrations have today published the UK Climate Change Programme 2006, to update the programme that we introduced in 2000.

The UK has one of the best records of any country in tackling greenhouse gas emissions, and we have already met our Kyoto target for 2010. The programme sets out the Government's commitments at international and domestic levels to meet the challenge of climate change. It also sets out our approach to strengthening the role that individuals can play. Progress in all three areas is regarded by the Government as essential.

Our review over the past 18 months has evaluated how effective our existing policies have been and analysed a range of possible new policies to contribute towards our national climate change goals. We are introducing a range of policies to strengthen our domestic delivery. Among these are measures to support increased generation from renewable sources,
 
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encourage the installation of energy efficiency measures in households, provide more reliable consumer product information, support more sustainable transport choices, introduce higher standards for efficiency in buildings and finance energy efficiency measures for public sector organisations.

Today we are also consulting on the draft of the UK's national allocation plan for the second phase of the EU emissions trading scheme. The scheme is a central element of the energy supply and business sectors' contribution to our policies to tackle climate change. It will be used to make a significant contribution to our national emissions reduction target.

These policies are expected to reduce the UK's emissions of the basket of greenhouse gases to 23 to 25 per cent below base-year levels, around twice our commitment to reduce emissions under the Kyoto protocol. It is also expected to reduce the UK's carbon dioxide emissions to 15 to 18 per cent below 1990 levels by 2010. The review, and policies introduced already, could reduce carbon emissions by 7 to 12MtC by 2010. This would take the Government close to their domestic target of a 20 per cent reduction by 2010. The Government still believe that the UK can achieve this target. This is an ongoing process and the Government will in future report annually to Parliament on emissions, future plans and progress on the domestic climate change agenda. We believe we can reach the 20 per cent target with support from all sections of the economy and society, not least by the collective action of individuals.

At international level, we will maintain our leadership role, and build on progress achieved through the G8 summit in Gleneagles, the European Union and the Montreal Climate Change Conference. Our aim is to secure agreement to the action and long-term goal needed to establish an effective future international regime to tackle climate change. As part of this, in partnership with the European Union, we will enhance our efforts to help India, China and other developing countries evolve as low-carbon economies.

Copies of this document will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament and those of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly Government, and the Northern Ireland Assembly. Copies can also be found at Defra's website at www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/pubs/ukccp/index.htm and in TSO offices.

Criminal Justice: Women

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): On 17 November 2005 I made a Statement about developments at Styal prison following the tragic series of deaths of six women there and further work planned relating to women offenders. I outlined in that Statement a great deal of work that is under way in respect of women who come into contact with the criminal justice system and, in particular, changes made at Styal and other women's
 
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prisons and the women's offending reduction programme (WORP), which is co-ordinating and implementing a comprehensive programme of work to address the complex range of factors that affect women's offending.

I said that it was timely to take stock of the work being done and to look again at the measures in place to ensure that we are doing everything possible for the especially vulnerable group of women who come into contact with the criminal justice system. I undertook to make a further announcement when the scope of this review had been determined and I am now able to make that further announcement.

I am pleased to announce that my noble friend Lady Jean Corston has agreed to undertake this review. Jean recently chaired the Joint Committee on Human Rights and instigated its valuable and comprehensive inquiry into deaths in custody in 2003.

The review will be focused on those women in whom a multitude of risk factors coexist and which could lead them to harm themselves in prison. This could, for example, encompass women with serious mental illness or serious drug addictions; women with other mental health problems such as personality disorder, which can be exacerbated by prison and increase their vulnerability; and those women who are persistent low-level offenders, living chaotic lives. It will look at provision for such women at each occasion they come into contact with the criminal justice system—for example, at police stations, at court, on remand, on sentencing, during sentence in the community, in prison and on release.

I stress that the review will complement rather than replicate the work under way and will seek to build on the vast amount of work and knowledge that already exists. For example, WORP aims to provide a more appropriate and joined-up response in the community to the particular factors that impact on women offenders. The Together Women Programme will trial an integrated approach to routing women to appropriate services to meet their needs at various stages of their offending history. The Baroness Corston's review will seek to build on this work, focusing on identified gaps in provision.

Part of the review will profile the characteristics and histories of some of the women who have died in custody in recent years (particularly those at Styal) and look at the pathway through the criminal justice system that led them to that point. It is hoped that some of those families sadly bereaved by these deaths might be willing to share their experiences with the review and provide an insight into the events that led to custody. This element of the review could provide a strong contribution to learning lessons and may be of some small comfort to those bereaved families.

The review will be assisted by a small advisory reference group, with some wider groups and themed seminars. The Baroness Corston is establishing her advisory group, which is likely to include, for example,
 
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the Prison Reform Trust, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, Women in Prison, INQUEST and NIMHE. Senior officials from the Home Office women's offending reduction programme, the Prison Service women's group and the National Offender Management Service safer custody group will also sit on the reference group. A wider group of people and organisations, whose expertise will be vital to the review, will also be invited to contribute both directly and through meetings and seminars. Many other individuals and organisations with specialist knowledge are being identified and will also be invited to contribute to the review.

I have asked the Baroness Corston for a progress report by the end of June 2006 and for her final report to reach me by 31 December 2006. The final report will be published.


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