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Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): My right honourable friend the Minister of State (Caroline Flint) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today I am publishing a report on the review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act public consultation. The consultation ran from 16 August to 25 November 2005. A total of 535 responses were received from a wide range of stakeholders and individuals. The report was produced for the Department of Health by People, Science and Policy Limited and comprises an independent summary of the arguments raised. Copies of the report, and the consultation responses have been placed in the Library.

In addition, over the same time period as the public consultation, the Department of Health funded the Progress Educational Trust to host an online discussion forum with the aim of facilitating open public discussion on issues raised in the context of the review. A summary of the postings made has been produced and copies have been placed in the Library.

Motor Vehicles: On-road and Off-road Events

Lord Davies of Oldham: My honourable friend the Minister of State for Transport (Dr Stephen Ladyman) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I have today published a consultation paper which seeks views on proposed changes to the regulations governing on-road and off-road motor events, the
 
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Motor Vehicles (Competitions and Trials) Regulations 1969 (as amended) and the Motor Vehicles (Off Road Events) Regulations 1995.

We propose making a single new set of regulations, which would replace the existing 1969 on-road and 1995 off-road regulations and their subsequent amendments. Most provisions of the existing regulations would not be changed, including the conditions that apply to the authorisation and conduct of events. However, we are proposing to make some changes to the procedures for authorising events. The proposed changes will be in respect of England only. Existing regulations would continue to apply in Wales and Scotland until the devolved Administrations make their own new regulations. Northern Ireland already has separate legislation for on-road and off-road motor events, which are the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland.

It is also proposed the fees charged to authorise on-road events should be raised to reflect current administration costs of providing the authorisation service. The fees were last changed in 1993 by the Motor Vehicles (Competition and Trials) (Amendment) Regulations 1993 (S.I. 1993/2233).

The details of these proposals are mentioned in the consultation paper. A partial regulatory impact assessment with costs and benefits is attached to the consultation paper.

Copies of the consultation paper and the annexes have been placed in the Libraries.

NHS: Trusts

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State (Patricia Hewitt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement today.

In my Written Ministerial Statements dated 1 December 2005 and 14 December 2005, I explained that I had agreed that proposals for the reconfiguration of strategic health authorities (SHAs), primary care trusts (PCTs) and NHS ambulance trusts were fit to go forward for consultation in the cause of improving services to patients. The objective has been to ensure that the consultation on PCTs covers the broadest and most appropriate range of options. This Statement provides an update on progress.

The proposals for the reconfiguration of SHAs and PCTs have been subject to a 14-week local consultation, which ended on 22 March 2006. Similarly, the proposals for the reconfiguration of NHS ambulance trusts have been subject to a 14-week consultation, which ended on 22 March, led by SHAs on my behalf.

No decisions will be taken regarding the reconfiguration of SHAs, PCTs and NHS ambulance trusts before the results of the consultations have been considered and any recommendations reviewed. SHAs will submit reports on the consultations on SHA and NHS ambulance trust reconfiguration proposals to the Department of Health by 5 April 2006 and on PCT
 
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reconfiguration proposals to the department by 10 April.

In previous Statements, I explained that an external panel had been established to advise Ministers on whether SHAs had adequately engaged local stakeholders as part of the consultations on SHA and PCT reconfiguration proposals and whether any recommendations for reconfiguration submitted by SHAs meet the criteria set out in Commissioning a Patient-Led NHS, published on 28 July 2005.

I will announce decisions as soon as possible, which may be on different timetables for the different forms and levels of organisations. Our aim is for new SHAs and new NHS ambulance trusts to be established from 1 July 2006 and for new PCTs to be established from 1 October 2006.

Northern Ireland: Robert Hamill Inquiry

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Rooker): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Peter Hain) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

The chairman of the Robert Hamill inquiry, Sir Edwin Jowitt, wrote to the Permanent Secretary of the Northern Ireland Office on 9 December formally to request that I convert the statutory basis of the Robert Hamill inquiry to the Inquiries Act 2005, under Section 15 of that Act.

I have very carefully considered the representations made by Sir Edwin Jowitt and the other representations I have received, and have sought to take all the relevant factors into account. My concern throughout has been to ensure that the Robert Hamill inquiry should be able to carry out its work both as fully and as effectively as possible. In light of this, and taking into account the case made for conversion by Sir Edwin Jowitt and all the representations I have received, I have decided to grant the request.

Through this Statement, I am formally giving notice under Section 15 of the Inquiries Act to Sir Edwin Jowitt and the panel members that the Robert Hamill inquiry will become an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005. The date of conversion will be the date of this Statement, 29 March 2006, and from this date the Robert Hamill inquiry will be held under the Inquiries Act 2005. Sir Edwin Jowitt will remain the chair of this inquiry and there will be no change to its terms of reference as announced on 16 November 2004.

It remains the strong wish of both the Government and the Hamill inquiry that the full facts in relation to the death of Robert Hamill should be established and I am confident that the Inquiries Act will provide an effective framework for achieving this. I can assure the House that the Government will continue to co-operate fully with this independent inquiry.
 
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Ports: Bathside Bay Container Terminal

Lord Davies of Oldham: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Derek Twigg) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

My department is announcing today that it is approving a proposal for ports development in the south-east—following a public inquiry in 2004—for the new Bathside Bay container terminal at Harwich. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is today issuing a parallel letter in respect of the planning applications which, together with the consents I have been asked to give, would allow the development to proceed. We believe that this scheme will provide much-needed container capacity in the coming years.

Ports play a vital role in supporting the national economy. The Government are committed to maintaining and enhancing that role through their broad approach to ports policy and to the decisions they take on individual ports applications.

We are committed to sustainable distribution and this new project would play a large part in securing that aim. We understand at the same time that the new terminal will have a significant impact on the environment. This is why we have imposed controls on the development, to provide new road and rail infrastructure so that congestion does not increase; to provide compensatory habitats for wildlife displaced by the scheme; and to reduce other environmental impacts such as noise, pollution and the visual impact.

Rape

The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): My honouable friend the Solicitor General has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today the Government are issuing a consultation paper, Convicting Rapists and Protecting Victims—Justice for Victims of Rape, following a review of the law concerning rape.

This paper sets out a range of proposals which aim to improve the outcome of rape cases through further strengthening the existing legal framework and improving our care for victims and witnesses.

We want to ensure that stronger cases are presented to the courts, that witnesses are given greater assistance in providing their evidence and that courts hear evidence from experts that will better inform juries about the realities of rape and the psychological impact of sexual offences on victims. Such evidence will address myths and stereotypes concerning how a victim might be expected to behave.

We believe these proposals have the potential to make a positive difference and welcome views on them. Copies of the consultation paper will be available in the Libraries and can be downloaded from www.homeoffice.gov.uk and www.cjsonline.org.


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