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18 Feb 2008 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday 18 February 2008

Afghanistan: Army Training

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): There is no question of the British Army compromising on the high quality of training it provides either to recruits or to units preparing for operations.

Afghanistan: Military Involvement

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): We have always made it clear that there is no solely military solution to the problems faced by Afghanistan. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister's Statement of 12 December (Official Report, cols. 303-07) outlined our approach and identified the need for the rejuvenation of the Afghan economy. Thus a comprehensive UK approach in support of the Afghan Government involving the MoD, FCO and DfID is in place. Together with the wider international effort this has resulted in over 5.4 million children now attending school, a third of whom are girls, and a 60 per cent increase in the number of functioning health clinics. These improved conditions have led to 4.8 million refugees returning to the country.

The Afghanistan Compact, agreed between the Afghan Government and the International Community in February 2006, set out clear development benchmarks with timelines against which progress is measured. We are focusing considerable energy and resources into the Afghan National Army, who will ultimately become responsible for the country's security; this is now bearing encouraging results.

Armed Forces: Future Aircraft Carrier

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The conclusion of the manufacture contract is closely interlinked with the formation of the BAES/VT Joint Venture, to be called BVT Surface Fleet Ltd, which will receive the contract. We are working closely with these companies to place the manufacture contract for CVF.

Armed Forces: Future Rapid Effect System

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Ministry of Defence has awarded an initial contract to undertake the System of Systems Integrator role on the future rapid effect system programme to the team of Thales (UK) and Boeing. The contract was signed on 24 January 2008.

Armed Forces: Helicopters

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): We expect that the first of the six additional Merlin helicopters will enter service in April 2008 and the rest later this year.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: Conversion work started on the first Chinook Mk3 aircraft in February 2008. The first aircraft are expected to be available in the last quarter of 2009 and the rest will be delivered by mid-2010.



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Arts: Funding

Lord Warner asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Arts Council operates at arm's length from the Government and decisions about which arts organisations to fund are entirely for it. It would not be appropriate for Ministers to comment.

I understand that the Arts Council has revised its funding proposal for the Orange Tree Theatre. The theatre will now receive an inflationary increase on its existing grant for the next three years.

Banking: Société Générale

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: Financial supervision is not a tripartite responsibility, but rather the job of the FSA. The regulatory objectives of the FSA are set out in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and are: market confidence; public awareness; the protection of consumers; and the reduction of financial crime. The measures taken by the FSA to address these objectives, including those aimed at reducing financial crime, are outlined in its yearly annual report and business plan publications.

Boundary Commission: Suffolk

Baroness Scott of Needham Market asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): I refer the noble Lady to the Statement made in the other place on Wednesday 6 February 2008 (Official Report, col. 67WS).

Central-Local Concordat

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The Central-Local Concordat, agreed between the Government and the Local Government Association (LGA), on behalf of local authorities in England, was signed in December last year. It commits both parties to a framework of principles to secure a new relationship between central government and local government. Discharging the rights and responsibilities of central government and local government set out in the concordat will require major changes in the behaviour and practice of both parties. The operation of this agreement will be monitored on a continuing basis, through renewed central-local partnership arrangements.

The Government are discussing with the LGA how to take forward the concordat, focusing on its guiding principles and specific commitments. These include encouraging councils to make effective use of their power to promote the well-being of their area; enabling local government to conduct a growing share of the business of government; central government consulting and collaborating with councils in setting national policies and proposing legislation; reducing the burden of appraisal and approval regimes and the volume of guidance issued by central government to local authorities; supporting and encouraging strong leadership and effective partnership working at local level; and increasing local democratic accountability of key public services, in particular the police and health services.

A single set of 198 national indicators for local authorities and local authority partnerships was announced as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 and consultation on detailed definitions of the set concluded on 21 December 2007, with the aim of announcing final decisions in February.

Local authorities across England are currently engaged in discussions with government offices on behalf of all government departments, including the Government Equalities Office, on the content of new local area agreements, which will take effect from 2008/09.

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Central-Local Concordat, agreed between the Government and the Local Government Association (LGA), on behalf of local authorities in England, was signed in December 2007. It commits both parties to a framework of principles to secure a new relationship between central government and local government. Discharging the rights and responsibilities of central government and local government set out in the concordat will require major changes in the behaviour and practice of both parties. The operation of the concordat will be monitored on a continuing basis, through renewed central-local partnership arrangements.

The Ministry of Justice is committed to the principles of the concordat and will continue to be involved in discussion with the Department for Communities and Local Government on how to take it forward, focusing on its guiding principles and specific commitments.

A single set of 198 national indicators for local authorities and local authority partnerships was announced as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 and consultation on detailed definitions of the set concluded on 21 December 2007, with the aim of announcing final decisions in February.

Local authorities across England are currently engaged in discussions with government offices on behalf of all government departments on the content of new-style local area agreements, which will have effect from 2008-09.

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Central-Local Concordat, agreed between the Government and the Local Government Association (LGA), on behalf of local authorities in England, was signed in December last year. It commits both parties to a framework of principles to secure a new relationship between central government and local government. Discharging the rights and responsibilities of central government and local government set out in the concordat will require major changes in the behaviour and practice of both parties. The operation of this agreement will be monitored on a continuing basis, through renewed central-local partnership arrangements.



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We are discussing with the LGA how we take forward the concordat, focusing on its guiding principles and specific commitments. These include encouraging councils to make effective use of their power to promote the well-being of their area; enabling local government to conduct a growing share of the business of government; central government consulting and collaborating with councils in setting national policies and proposing legislation; reducing the burden of appraisal and approval regimes and the volume of guidance issued by central government to local authorities; supporting and encouraging strong leadership and effective partnership working at local level; and increasing local democratic accountability of key public services, in particular the police and health services.

A single set of 198 national indicators for local authorities and local authority partnerships was announced as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 and consultation on detailed definitions of the set concluded on 21 December 2007, with the aim of announcing final decisions in February.

Local authorities across England are currently engaged in discussions with government offices on behalf of all government departments on the content of new-style local area agreements, which will have effect from 2008-09.

In keeping with the 2006 local government White Papers, LAAs are negotiated agreements with flexibility for local authorities and their partners to reflect local priorities.

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Andrews: The operation of the new Central-Local Concordat, agreed in December between the Government and the Local Government Association (LGA), on behalf of local authorities in England, will be monitored on a continuing basis through renewed central-local partnership (CLP) arrangements. We are discussing with the LGA the most effective arrangements for future joint working between government Ministers and leading local government councillors in England, under CLP arrangements.

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:


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