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Diplomacy

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): I am today laying before Parliament Government White Paper Cm 6762, Active Diplomacy for a Changing World: The UK's international priorities.

In a world of global communications and markets, our security and prosperity depend more than ever on what happens in other parts of the world. Active Diplomacy for a Changing World: The UK's international priorities updates the FCO's 2003 White Paper, UK International Priorities: A Strategy for the FCO. It identifies the trends we expect to shape the world in the next 10 years, sets out the UK's role in the international system, and identifies the strategic international priorities for the Government as a whole.

The world in the next 10 years

Based on extensive consultation with partners around government and beyond, some of the trends and their implications for the UK outlined in the White Paper are as follows.

The gathering pace of globalisation: the flow of people, goods, money and knowledge, and the rapid growth of Asia, present new opportunities and risks. We will need to adapt our economy, and work with others to support global economic openness. And we must also help to build effective states able to provide security, opportunity, justice and basic services for their citizens.

Pressures on natural resources: economic demand, population growth and climate change are putting the world's natural resources under new pressure. We will need to manage increasing competition for energy in particular.

An uncertain security environment: terrorism will remain the primary security threat to the UK. The fight to control the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons will be crucial over the next 10 years. There will be new risks to fragile states and uncertainty about developments in key parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
 
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The UK Government's response

To meet these and other challenges, the British Government:

The UK's International Priorities

The 2003 White Paper introduced a set of strategic priorities to guide the Government's international policy. This new White Paper builds on these strategic priorities, and introduces some new ones.

The provision of public services to UK citizens abroad has always been a core activity. The continuing importance of delivering high-quality consular support, against a backdrop of increasing demand, has led to our decision to introduce a new strategic priority to cover this activity.

We have also introduced a new strategic priority on managing migration and combating illegal immigration. The pressures driving migration are significant. Managing our economic, social, security and development objectives will be an important task for government in the years ahead.

On the basis of this assessment, the strategic international priorities for government identified in the White Paper are:

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The role of the FCO

The White Paper also sets out how the FCO will continue to adapt to take forward the strategic priorities, working with others in government. The role of the FCO is to exercise judgment and influence to shape the future for the benefit of our citizens and others. We must be engaged on the ground with the knowledge, experience and skills to effect change.

Our network of posts must continue to adapt to new opportunities and risks. We are moving resources to priorities in Asia and the Middle East; tackling issues such as conflict, energy security and economic and political reform in key regions; developing rapid deployment teams for crisis response; and using information and communications technology to help us work more flexibly and effectively.

This White Paper and the strategic priorities will provide the framework for deploying our efforts as resources remain tight and demand for our services grows.

Land Registry: Key Performance Indicators

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The following list sets out the key performance indicators* that have been set for Her Majesty's Land Registry for 2006–07.

Customer Service

Speed:

Percentage of official copy and search applications processed within two working days: 98 per cent

Percentage of all registrations processed within 18 working days: 80 per cent

Accuracy:

Percentage of registrations processed free of any error: 98.5 per cent

Overall Satisfaction 1 :

Percentage of customers who, overall, are very satisfied/satisfied with the full range of services provided by Land Registry: Better than 95 per cent

Financial:

Percentage return on average capital employed: 3.5 per cent

Efficiency 2 :

Cost per unit in cash terms 3 (real terms) (4) £29.77 (£21.17)

Critical Action Points

Customer service: Introduce imagery-based access to land register online.

Land registration: Add a further 700,000 hectares of land to the total areas of registered freehold land in England and Wales.

Electronic service delivery: Introduce a prototype chain matrix service to provide transparency to residential conveyancing chains.
 
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Other Business Development: Establish a Land Registry portal as a first step in implementing a single integrated customer interface for all online Land Registry information and services.

* More information on these and other key targets is published in the strategic and business plans.

1 Result from quarterly satisfaction survey

2 This is a final-year target towards the HM Treasury-agreed cost per unit target for 2006–07 of £29.94 in cash terms (£21.17 in real terms). Target adjusted for revised pension costs.

3 Based on the GDP deflator issued by HM Treasury on 23 December 2005 (base year 1992–93).

(4); The real term unit cost in the base year of 1992–93 was £30.65.

Microgeneration

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): My honourable friend the Minister for Energy (Malcolm Wicks) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On the 28 March 2006, I am publishing the Government's microgeneration strategy. Publication fulfils the requirement under the Energy Act 2004 to publish a strategy for the promotion of microgeneration within 18 months of commencement of the relevant section.

Microgeneration is generally defined as the small-scale production of heat and/or electricity from a low-carbon source. The suite of technologies caught by this definition includes solar (PV to provide electricity and thermal to provide hot water), micro-wind (including the new rooftop mounted turbines), micro-hydro, heat pumps, biomass, micro combined heat and power and small-scale fuel cells.

A study commissioned by the DTI from the Energy Saving Trust (EST) suggested that by 2050, microgeneration could provide 30 to 40 per cent of the UK's electricity needs and help to reduce household carbon emissions by 15 per cent per annum. In 2004 there were approximately 82,000 microgeneration installations in the UK.

The objective of the microgeneration strategy is to create conditions under which microgeneration becomes a realistic alternative or supplementary energy generation source for the householder, for the community and for small businesses. If this can be achieved we will start to see the level of growth in installations required for microgeneration to make the significant contribution to our energy goals that is its potential.

The strategy contains a wide range of actions, varying from the £80 million low-carbon buildings capital grant programme, improvements to existing communications activity, a review of the permitted development regime to a pilot to assess the benefits of smart metering combined with microgeneration.
 
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