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Enterprise Week

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Drayson): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Competitiveness (Stephen Timms) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

This year, Enterprise Week runs from 12 to 18 November. It is the annual focal point of the Make Your Mark campaign—which aims to inspire young people (aged 14 to 30 years) to be enterprising in the broadest sense, developing a creative, can-do attitude with the skills to spot opportunities and the confidence to pursue them. This is crucial for the future aspirations of millions of young people as well as the economic future of the UK—encouraging business start-ups, social enterprises and development of an enterprising workforce. Wednesday 14 November will be Women's Enterprise Day and Thursday 15 November will be Social Enterprise Day.

This is not simply about encouraging business start-ups and entrepreneurship. The campaign also encourages organisations across the UK to take the opportunity of Enterprise Week to celebrate and recognise the wealth of talent that is evident in every business and to encourage their employees to start thinking about ideas that have a very clear and tangible business benefit.

Make Your Mark is funded by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and is led by Enterprise Insight—a campaign coalition founded by the UK's leading business organisations (the CBI, the British Chambers of Commerce, the Institute of Directors and the Federation of Small Businesses) in partnership with the main enterprise development organisations and working closely with government departments, education bodies, regional development agencies and others.

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Last year, Enterprise Week generated very large community interest in entrepreneurship—448,000 people attended the 3,184 events run by 1,410 organisations. More than 20,000 people in 3,704 teams from schools, colleges and workplaces competed simultaneously around the UK in the Make Your Mark Challenge—the week's largest single event. More than 15 per cent of events were in colleges and universities and social enterprise had a particularly high profile, featuring in more than 10 per cent of all events and media coverage.

Enterprise Week 2007 is expected to be even bigger but it needs Members' continued support. Members are urged to look at the campaign website and consider how the campaign can benefit their constituencies. Active support of Enterprise Week events taking place in constituencies and encouraging the organisations that are running them to register details of their event on the database at will help to ensure that this is the biggest Enterprise Week yet.

EU: Development Ministers' Meeting

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Vadera): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Gareth Thomas) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I represented the UK at the EU Development Ministers’ informal meeting in Madeira on 21 and 22 September 2007.

The UK contributed to momentum in the right direction on the humanitarian, security and trade agendas, as well as securing support for the Prime Minister’s MDG call for action.

Friday 21 September

Improving the EU response to Fragile Situations

The Portuguese Minister for Development, Joao Cravinho, and Development Commissioner, Louis Michel, introduced this item, stressing the need to work differently in fragile contexts and to focus on prevention of violent conflict. The Minister stressed the importance of stability in helping to improve progress towards the millennium development goals (MDGs). Picking up this point, I asked for support for the Prime Minister’s call for action on the MDGs. In this context and others, the initiative was favourably received. In relation to dealing with fragility, along with some other Ministers, I stressed the importance of basing plans on the OECD Development Assistance Committee guidelines. I advocated the importance of learning lessons from experience with new instruments developed to fit fragile contexts, such as multi-donor trust funds.

Security and Development

The Portuguese Defence Minister (a former Development Minister), Mr Nuno Severiano Teixeira, gave a presentation on improving coherence between development and security policies.. While recognising the challenges of differing timescales and priorities,

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he advocated closer working, including shared management of resources and cross-departmental teams. I was able to share the positive experience of the UK with the cross-departmental Conflict Pools and Post-Conflict Reconstruction Unit. A number of member states mentioned concerns about potential diversion of official development assistance to cover “military” expenditure. Italy is in the process of passing a new development law which should provide better protection than at present. I spoke about the UK’s International Development Act in this regard. I drew attention to the importance of building capacity in the UN and the African Union for effective peace-building as well as peacekeeping. I also reminded participants of the importance of the Arms Trade Treaty.

Humanitarian Aid

Minister Cravinho introduced this item on behalf of the presidency, which aims to have an EU humanitarian consensus to match the 2005 development consensus as a commitment to best practice. While acknowledging the value of the consensus and the good work of ECHO, I pressed for much stronger acknowledgement of the pre-eminence of the UN in co-ordination of responses to humanitarian crises and a clearer commitment to the UN’s central emergency response fund. I drew attention to the importance of the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence where military or armed police personnel and equipment were deployed.

International Development Architecture

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Gutierres, a former Prime Minister of Portugal, gave a presentation encouraging Europe to take a leading role as a “rational centre” in the global development scene, pushing for co-ordination. He acknowledged the importance of UN reform and pointed to the limitations of the international financial institutions. In his view, three of the main challenges facing the international community were security, migration and climate change.

Saturday 22 September

Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs):

Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson opened the discussion of economic partnership agreements among EU Development Ministers. He painted a mixed picture of progress. He highlighted the unprecedented generosity of the EU’s offer to the African, Caribbean and Pacific partner countries, most recently with new rules of origin. He advised Ministers not to heed calls to extend the deadline for deals, arguing that it would be illegal under WTO rules. I acknowledged the generosity of the offer, while suggesting that even more liberal rules of origin could help the negotiations. A goods-only “framework” EPA offered the best prospects for breaking deadlock. Along with other Ministers, I stressed that the ACP must not be left worse off if it proved impossible to reach a deal.

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EU: Transport Council

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Transport (Rosie Winterton) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I attended the transport session of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council, held in Luxembourg on 2 October. The Portuguese Minister for Public Works, Transport, and Communications, Mr Mario Lino, was in the chair.

At the June council, Transport Ministers agreed a resolution calling on the Commission to submit proposals on ways to take forward the Galileo satellite navigation programme, following acknowledgement by that council that the PPP process had failed. Accordingly, on 19 September the Commission issued a communication dealing with costs, risks, procurement and governance, together with a proposal for amendment of the Galileo financing regulation and provision for funds to be transferred from the margin available under the agriculture and administration budget headings, to fund Galileo in the competitiveness heading (1A).

With insufficient time for member states to give detailed consideration to the communication or to seek the views of national parliaments, discussion on Galileo was confined to an exchange of views. In the exchange, there was wide support for the Galileo project and for reaching an integrated decision by the end of this year. The council conclusions reflect these points. In the discussion I made clear the UK's strongly held view that the project should offer value for money for the community, our opposition to a revision of the financial perspectives, and our firm view that, if the community decides to proceed with a public procurement of Galileo, any additional funding should be found by reprioritisation within heading 1A.

Following its agreement in principle in June, the council adopted a resolution to establish an EU regional data centre for long-range identification and tracking (LRIT) of ships. This will create a single EU system for ship tracking, in line with the requirements of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). A decision was required prior to the participation of EU member states in the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meeting, starting on 3 October. I welcomed the establishment of the data centre, while noting some remaining concerns on system integration and cost-sharing. We also presented these concerns in writing. A UK proposal to set up an ad hoc working group to address these issues was supported by the presidency, the Commission, and a number of member states.

The council reached a general approach on the draft directive on road infrastructure safety management. The text of the general approach is acceptable to the UK.

The council reached a general approach on each of two proposals on rail interoperability and safety, which have been negotiated together. They are a directive on interoperability of the community rail

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system, combining three previous directives, and a directive amending the 2004 directive on rail safety. The general approach texts on these two proposals are acceptable to the UK and successfully deal with our original concerns on establishing a clearer approach as to how the extension to the whole of the member states, rail system will be taken forward.

The presidency and the Commission reported on the outcome of the 36th assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal. The outcome on emissions trading had been disappointing. The Commission wished to examine possible further action, either within ICAO or at the forthcoming UN negotiations in December, and suggested that the Transport Council return to this issue at its November meeting.

The council adopted a decision giving a mandate for the Commission to open negotiations on a comprehensive aviation agreement with Canada. The terms of the mandate are acceptable to the UK.

The council adopted conclusions on the Commission's communication on An Action Plan for Airport Capacity, Efficiency and Safety in Europe. The conclusions were acceptable to the UK.

Under AOB, the Commission presented its green paper on urban transport, entitled Towards a New Culture for Urban Mobility. The Commission noted the consultation deadline of 15 March 2008 and the intention to publish an action plan in autumn 2008.

I have written to the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, House of Commons, and the Chairman of the Select Committee on the European Union, House of Lords, detailing the outcome of the session. Copies of these letters have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Freedom of Information Act 2000

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My honourable friend the Minister of State (Michael Wills) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 24 September 2007, I deposited copies of The Freedom of Information Act 2000: Statistics on Implementation in Central GovernmentQ2, April-June in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are also available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

This is the quarterly monitoring statistics report analysing the performance of central government in the third full year of freedom of information.

Health: Injury Benefits

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My honourable friend the Minister of State for Health (Ben Bradshaw) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The scheme administrators have identified shortcomings with the administration of the NHS injury benefits scheme since 1972. The review identified that:

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between 1985 and 1998, in some cases the incorrect eligibility criteria have been used;since 1972, injury benefits have been inappropriately adjusted to take account of changes in the rate of DWP benefits; andsince 2002 some decisions have been made without appropriate legal authority.

The pensions division of the NHS Business Services Authority has instituted corrective action and all those known to be affected will be notified that their claims will be reviewed. People who have been underpaid will receive the money that they are due and those who have been overpaid will not be expected to pay the money back. Once corrections have been made to known cases, an advertising campaign will be undertaken to identify individuals who may have been inappropriately advised against making claims.

The Government take very seriously the difficulties that have been identified with the administration of the NHS injury benefit scheme over many years. They support the action of the scheme administrators in identifying the historic issues and in undertaking corrective action.

House of Lords: Expenses

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The resolution of the House of 20 July 1994 provided for the limits of the subsistence and office cost allowances to be uprated annually on 1 August in line with the increase in the retail prices index over the previous 12 months to July.

Accordingly, the limits within which Lords may be reimbursed expenses incurred were increased with effect from 1 August 2007. The new limits are now as follows (the limits previously applicable are shown in brackets):

Overnight subsistence

£165.50 (£159.50)

Day subsistence

£82.50 (£79.50)

Office costs

£71.50 (£69)

Office costs for non-sitting periods

£2,860.00 (£2,760)

40 days @ £71.50 (£69)

Human Tissue and Embryos Bill (Draft)

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Health (Dawn Primarolo) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today we have laid before Parliament the Government response to the Joint Committee's report on the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill (Cm 7209).

On 17 May 2007, the Government published draft legislation to revise and update the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. This was set out in the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill.

The Government welcome the establishment of a Joint Committee of both Houses to undertake pre-legislative scrutiny. The Government are grateful

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for the committee's report and have accepted several of the key recommendations. We believe that an improved Bill will result from this process.

The Command Paper sets out the Government's response to all 31 recommendations and is available in the Library.

Immigration: Eurostar

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration and Minister for the West Midlands (Liam Byrne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today announcing changes to juxtaposed control zones for the new Eurostar terminals at St Pancras and Ebbsfleet International. Juxtaposed controls have been highly successful in reducing the dangerous and illegal crossing of the Channel. The changes in location of the control zone from Waterloo to St Pancras and a new zone at Ebbsfleet International will take place when Eurostar moves its operations in November. In line with the Government's strategic objective to strengthen our borders, this will allow us to continue work jointly with our French and Belgian partners to protect our borders against the threats from illegal immigration.

The Sangatte Protocol 1991 and the Additional Protocol to the Sangatte Protocol 2000, given effect by the Channel Tunnel (International Arrangements) Order 1993, provide the basis for juxtaposed controls at Eurostar terminals for trains travelling between France and the UK. A tripartite agreement between France, Belgium and the UK of 1993, a protocol to that agreement and administrative arrangements made pursuant to that instrument in 2004 provide the basis for juxtaposed controls in respect of trains travelling between Belgium and the UK (via France) via the channel tunnel. These are given effect by the Channel Tunnel (Miscellaneous Provisions) Order 1994. Secondary legislation is to be laid before Parliament to make the necessary provision for the new control zones at St Pancras and Ebbsfleet International and to remove the control zone at Waterloo International. Copies of the amended international agreements will be available in the House Libraries.

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