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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Bob Ainsworth) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The MoD is establishing a pilot Centre for Defence Enterprise to facilitate enterprise in the defence sector, continuing the pursuit of a broader supplier base for advanced technology to deliver a battle-winning edge to the UK Armed Forces, as set out in the Defence Industrial Strategy, Defence Technology Strategy and MoD Innovation Strategy.
The Centre for Defence Enterprise will bring together innovators and investors with an interest in potential defence technology. This will be a further incentive for individuals, small and medium-sized enterprises and academia to engage with the MoD and the established defence industry. It is also the opportunity for the UK investment community to enter the major business of supplying the UK Armed Forces.
The initial pilot will be focussed on a physical centre at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus to allow for interested parties to come and understand the needs of the department and align their ideas and energy to make a real difference to the frontline. The internet will be utilised to ensure that the whole of the UK can join this endeavour and further open defence to all UK innovators.
The initial pilot will test the level of engagement and needs of the innovators and investors to develop the business model for greatest effectiveness. Most products of this initiative are anticipated to take several years to mature, although some could deliver to the frontline much quicker if suitable.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Iain Wright) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The agencys principal financial target for 2008-09 is to achieve a minimum dividend payment to the Department for Communities and Local Government of £1,340,000 with an additional dividend payment of £360,000 if trading revenues meet target. The agency will pay an exceptional dividend to the Department for Communities and Local Government in December 2008 of £2,800,000.
I have today laid before Parliament a policy statement on the exercise of my powers in relation to passenger rail franchising under Section 26(1) of the
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The statement sets out how I intend to award rail franchises in future, which is by means of competitive tender wherever possible. The statement also sets out those circumstances in which it is likely that an invitation to tender will not be issued, and clarifies those circumstances where a franchise agreement may be extended.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Parmjit Dhanda) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities is today publishing for consultation her proposed changes to the draft revision of the regional spatial strategy for the north-west of England.
The regional spatial strategy forms part of the statutory development plan for every local authority in the north-west, and sets the framework for the production of local development frameworks and local transport plans. It provides the spatial plan for the development of the region, and provides the policy framework for employment, housing, transport and the environment.
The current strategy, initially published as regional planning guidance, became the regional spatial strategy in September 2004 with the enactment of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act. A draft revision of the regional spatial strategy was submitted to Government in January 2006 by the North West Regional Assembly. It was subsequently tested in an examination in public between November 2006 and February 2007 and the report of the independent panel which conducted this examination was published in May 2007.
The Secretary of State has considered the recommendations of this independent panel which held the examination in public, and has taken into account the representations made on the draft revision, and also changes in government policy since the draft revision was submitted.
Today's publication of the Secretary of States proposed changes now represents the commencement of a public consultation until 23 May 2008. Also being published are the reports of a sustainability appraisal of the proposed changes and a habitats regulations assessment.
Following consideration of the responses to the consultation, the Secretary of State hopes to publish the finalised regional spatial strategy for the north-west of England in July 2008. On final publication it will supersede the current RSS.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My right honourable friend the Minister of State (David Hanson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
On 8 October 2007 my right honourable friend the Minister for Children, Young People and Families (Beverley Hughes) and I announced the appointment of Andrew Williamson CBE and Peter Smallridge CBE as independent co-chairs of the review of restraint in juvenile secure settings (Official Report, col. 20WS). The Ministry of Justice and the Department for Children, Schools and Families have joint responsibility for the review.
During their consultation on the independent review, the chairs have met a wide range of interested parties and have taken extensive written evidence. The chairs have also visited all secure training centres and a number of young offender institutions and secure childrens homes to learn first-hand about restraint and to hear of the experiences and views of both young people and staff. The chairs are grateful to all those who have provided evidence to the review.
The chairs have now moved towards a detailed consideration of their findings. The chairs have identified what they consider to be a significant remaining gap in the evidence base for their report. This concerns the use of restraint in secure childrens homes. Unlike the position in secure training centres and young offender institutions, there is a wide range of restraint methods available for commercial procurement in secure childrens homes. There is no central prescription of techniques and it is the responsibility of each local authority or provider to identify techniques appropriate to the secure childrens home for which they have responsibility, taking into account the framework for the use of restraint set out in regulations and national minimum standards. Consequently, this fragmented picture means that the information on restraint in secure childrens homes has not been as readily available to
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It was to help the chairs close this evidence gap that the Department for Children, Schools and Families commissioned the National Childrens Bureau to undertake thorough research on restraint in secure childrens homes. This important research, which began in January, aims to provide, for the first time, a systematic map of restraint methods, systems and processes in secure childrens homes. It will also help us to identify where there are remaining gaps in our knowledge. And it will look at the data to see if there is any evidence of harm to children and young people arising from these restraint methods.
The chairs have welcomed this research project and have been kept in touch with its early emerging findings. The main outcomes of the research, however, will not be available in time for the chairs to reflect its conclusions in their recommendations. Without this research, the chairs believe, the review may be a missed opportunity to examine restraint properly in all three secure settings and to make well-founded recommendations for its future regulation. Accordingly, the chairs wrote to my right honourable friend and me on 28 February to propose that they should delay their report until 20 June to ensure that their report can reflect the results of the NCB research into secure childrens homes. We have placed a copy of the chairs letter in the Libraries of both Houses.
Having considered the arguments carefully, my right honourable friend and I have agreed with the chairs request that they now defer their report to us until 20 June 2008 at the latest. We accept the chairs view that to be complete their report must take the NCB research into account. The restraint of young people is a highly important issue and we believe that, on balance, it is better for the report to be deferred for a short period than for a premature or incomplete report to be submitted to the original deadline.
Although this puts back the chairs submission of their report, my right honourable friend and I have always been clear that the ongoing independent review would not prevent us taking urgent action on restraint where it is needed. In December 2007, my right honourable friend and I, on medical advice, suspended two PCC restraint holds used in secure training centres, the Border and Immigration Agency and Northern Ireland. And the Government will shortly be publishing their action plan to address issues raised by the coroners of the inquests into the tragic deaths of Gareth Myatt and Adam Rickwood.
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