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Written Statements

Wednesday 2 April 2008

Adoption: Cambodia

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families (Mr Kevin Brennan) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement. I am today announcing the outcome of a review of the suspension of adoptions of Cambodian children by UK residents.

In June 2004, the Minister of State for Children, Young People and Families, Margaret Hodge, announced the suspension of adoptions in response to concerns raised and investigated by officials from the DfES (now DCSF) who visited Cambodia, by the British embassy in Cambodia and, separately, by other stakeholders about the intercountry adoption process in Cambodia.

A review of the suspension was announced last year and was carried out by my department. The purpose of the review was to update the information on which the suspension was based, and to find out what concerns, if any, remain valid and whether there are any other concerns about practices taking place.

The review work assessed the current situation in Cambodia regarding intercountry adoption, including what changes, if any, to practice and legislation have been made in the three years since the temporary suspension was introduced. The review also took account of Cambodia’s accession to The Hague Convention (on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption 1993).

On 12 December, the UK lodged an objection to Cambodia’s accession to The Hague Convention, in accordance with Article 44 of the convention. Cambodia’s accession to the convention therefore has no effect as regards relations between the UK and Cambodia.

Evidence from the review demonstrates that: adoption legislation, practice and procedure in Cambodia remain insufficient to ensure the proper protection of children and their families; lifting the suspension at the current time would expose Cambodian children and their families to an increased risk of improper practices which are contrary to the principles of the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption (The Hague Convention) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The suspension of adoptions of Cambodian children by UK residents therefore still remains in place. I will of course consider the effect of any changes to adoption legislation and practice in Cambodia in keeping the suspension under review.

I am also announcing today the outline timetable for the implementation of the statutory provisions relating to the restrictions of adoptions from abroad in the Children and Adoption Act 2002. I intend to implement Sections 9 and 10 and, in so far as they are not already in force, Sections 11 and 12 of the 2006 Act in summer 2008.



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Artists: Resale Rights

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Science and Innovation, (Ian Pearson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today placing in the Library of the House copies of a study by the Intellectual Property Institute (IPI) into the effect on the UK art market of the introduction of the artist’s resale right (ARR).

The directive 2001/84/EC on the resale right for the benefit of the author of an original work of art was adopted in 2001. This required a new right, “artist’s resale right”, (often referred to by its French name droit de suite) to be introduced into the United Kingdom by 1 January 2006.

Due to concerns over the potential impact that the introduction of ARR might have on the UK art market, the UK Government successfully secured a number of concessions within the directive to lessen its impact. These were:

a cap of €12,500 royalty on any one sale;a commitment from the EC that it would make it a priority to negotiate internationally to make the relevant article of the Berne Convention mandatory so that the right would be introduced in the USA and Switzerland (on which little has yet been done nor it seems is likely to be done); anda derogation to 2010, extendable upon request to 2012, allowing the UK to delay applying the right to works by deceased artists.

The implementing regulations were brought into force in the UK on 14 February 2006. ARR entitles artists and, for 70 years after death, their successors in title, to a percentage of the sale price whenever original works of art are resold in transactions involving art market professionals.

The purpose of the study, commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office, was to provide:

an assessment of the impact on the UK art market of the introduction of artist’s resale right (ARR);an assessment of the costs, both to business and collecting societies, of administering the right; andan assessment of the benefit to artists in the introduction of the right.

The Government are considering this evidence to develop our understanding of the impact of ARR on UK creativity and the UK art market.

Balkans: Reserve Forces

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.

A new call-out order has been made under Section 56 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 so that reservists may continue to be called out into permanent service

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to support military operations in the Balkans. The order takes effect from 2 April 2008. Over the next 12 months we expect to have some 20 reservists in theatre at any one time filling a variety of different posts, including staff officers, specialists and members of the training teams.

Coinage

Lord Davies of Oldham: My honourable friend the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Angela Eagle) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Royal Mint has today unveiled the definitive reverse designs for new United Kingdom circulating coins from the one pence to the one pound piece. The designs were chosen following a public design competition to which more than 4,000 entries were submitted. Coins bearing existing designs will continue to circulate alongside those bearing the new designs. Copies of the new designs have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

Heritage Protection Bill (Draft)

Lord Davies of Oldham: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Andy Burnham) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today laying the draft Heritage Protection Bill and Explanatory Notes for pre-legislative scrutiny. Copies of the related impact assessment are available in the Vote and Printed Paper Offices.

This is a draft Bill for England and Wales, which sets out the legislative framework for a unified and simpler heritage protection system that will be more open, accountable and transparent. The new system will provide more opportunities for public involvement and community engagement in understanding, preserving and managing our heritage. As the impact assessment makes clear, the main benefits of the reforms introduced by the Heritage Protection Bill are not best expressed in terms of the financial balance sheet, but are better understood in terms of public value and sustainability. The reforms set out in this Bill will enable us to preserve the historic environment and manage its transition to the future, in the light of both present values and in the interest of future generations.

The draft Bill is based on the proposals set out in the White Paper, Heritage Protection for the 21st Century (March 2007), which itself was based on three key principles: the need to develop a unified approach to the historic environment; maximising opportunities for inclusion and involvement; and supporting sustainable communities by putting the historic environment at the heart of an effective planning system.

The draft Heritage Protection Bill contains provisions for a single system for national designation (“registration”) of terrestrial heritage assets to replace the listing of buildings, scheduling of monuments and registering of parks, gardens, battlefields and, in Wales, historic landscapes.



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In England, we will be transferring responsibility for national designation of all these assets to English Heritage; in Wales that responsibility will remain with the Welsh Ministers. There will be new heritage registers, one each for England and Wales, containing details of all nationally designated heritage assets, as well as World Heritage sites in England and Wales. There will also be formal appeals or review mechanisms for registration decisions, and provisional registration to give “interim protection” to historic assets while they are being considered for registration, as well as wider formal consultation on applications to register.

Alongside this unification of designation, we will be unifying and streamlining the associated consent processes, with the introduction of a new heritage asset consent to replace listed building consent and scheduled monument consent, and the merger of conservation area consent with planning permission. In England, the new heritage asset consent will be administered by local planning authorities, allowing the management of the historic environment to take place at local level; in Wales, the draft Bill will provide flexibility to allow central decision-making where appropriate, recognising the different levels of capacity in Wales.

We recognise the need for effective conservation and management of the historic environment at local level to be knowledge-based, and for the records of our historic environment to be available to as many people as possible. This Bill will secure the basis for informed stewardship of the historic environment, within and beyond the planning system, by placing local authorities under a new statutory duty to maintain or have access to an historic environment record (HER). HERs are a comprehensive resource on the local historic environment, containing information on archaeological sites and finds, historic buildings and historic landscapes, complementing and enriching our existing collections of museum, archives and libraries. In keeping with this drive towards greater accessibility, the new heritage registers will also be available online and new records will be simpler, clearer and more detailed.

The draft Bill will also introduce a new statutory framework for voluntary management agreements between the owners of heritage sites and structures and local or other authorities. These agreements will free owners from the need for repetitive consent applications for similar works, reducing the bureaucratic and administrative burdens for owners and local authorities alike, and providing greater certainty on the long-term management of the site.

Striking the balance between flexibility and the need to ensure protection alongside conservation and management characterises our proposals to reform the marine heritage protection system in England and Wales. We have broadened the range of marine historic assets that can be protected, ensuring that there is greater consistency—where appropriate—with the terrestrial system, and brought greater flexibility to the licensing system. As we have done for terrestrial designations, we have also built a formal consultation process into the registration of marine heritage sites and ensured protection for those assets formally being considered for designation.



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These reforms will give us a heritage protection system that is open, flexible and accountable. Our heritage is an important source of national and community identity; people recognise its value and work hard, voluntarily and professionally, to ensure its conservation and pass it on. We are increasingly recognising the value of the historic environment in contributing to the Government's wider agenda in terms of place-making and promoting economic prosperity through regeneration and sustainable use of existing resources. The proposals in the draft Heritage Protection Bill will enable us and future generations to benefit from a thriving, well managed, sustainable and widely enjoyed historic environment.

The draft Bill we are publishing today follows long and extensive consultation. We are publishing in draft to generate and benefit from the widest possible debate. If there are proposals for further changes, we will consider them carefully in the light of all the views expressed.

Highways Agency

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Tom Harris) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I have today published a new policy for roadside facilities on England’s strategic road network, Policy on service areas and other roadside facilities on motorways and all purpose trunk roads in England.

The policy has been developed in the light of responses to a recent public consultation, and is aimed at improving service to road users. The policy covers issues including:

the location of motorway service areas (MSAs)—determining the need for such sites and the spacing interval between them;facilities at MSAs—the type of facilities, how they are signed and their standards;service areas on trunk roads;motorway rest areas:lorry parking; andthe provision and use of lay-bys.

Copies of the policy and impact assessment have been placed in the Library of the House.

Legal Aid

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Legal Services Commission (LSC), the Ministry of Justice and the Law Society of England and Wales today reached agreement on the best way forward for legal aid providers following the Court of Appeal judgment on the unified contract (29 November 2007).

The agreement was achieved through a series of constructive discussions between the three organisations. The agreement is designed to provide a significant period of certainty and stability for civil legal aid providers to enable them to adapt to the changes to the legal aid system that have already been introduced,

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and to consider and plan for the future. The agreement also addresses a number of specific issues that the Law Society has identified to the LSC and Ministry as being of concern to civil legal aid providers and, where these issues require further consideration, sets up joint mechanisms to address these collaboratively.

The main points of the agreement are:

in order to provide a period of certainty and stability for civil legal aid providers it is agreed not to terminate the existing civil unified contract until it expires in 2010, subject to the conditions set out in the agreement;my department and the LSC agree not to introduce any other changes to civil, family and asylum contracts for solicitors and not-for-profit providers before April 2010, other than those set out in the agreement;the Law Society agrees not to pursue its current legal challenge to the new civil fee schemes introduced in 2007 and early this year, and not to support any further such challenges;to assist providers in planning for the future, my department and the LSC agree to publish details and a timetable of the future programme of civil legal aid reforms;that all three organisations have a strong commitment to work together in the future to develop the reforms and to seek to resolve any disputes in this way rather than through litigation;there will be a few targeted increases in some of the fees in the civil fee schemes already introduced; andfurther practical issues, including arrangements for dealing with payments on account and claims on cases over six years old, are set out in the agreement.

A copy of a joint Statement agreed by all three parties has been made available in the Libraries of both Houses. Further details of the agreement will be available shortly on the website of the Legal Services Commission at www.legalservices.gov.uk.

The legal aid reform programme will continue. The Government remain fully committed to their objectives of improving client access to quality services and providing value for money for the taxpayer.

Local Government

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My honourable friend the Minister for Local Government (John Healey) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 4 February 2008, I laid before Parliament a Written Ministerial Statement about payments under the Local Authority Business Growth Incentives scheme (LABGI) in the light of legal challenge (Official Report, col. 47WS). I am now in a position to announce the methodology the Government intend to use, to make additional payments to local authorities for years 1 and 2 of the scheme and to make payments for year 3 of the three-year scheme.



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For years 1 and 2, the Government propose to make additional payments to eligible local authorities using all Valuation Office Agency change codes which record an increase in rateable value and which were not previously used in LABGI calculations. This will ensure that all codes that could contain elements of business growth are taken into account. As a result, we propose that additional payments totalling approximately £50.9 million should be made to authorities (approximately £13.5 million for year 1 and £37.3 million for year 2).

For year 3, the Government intend to replicate the revised methodology for years 1 and 2 of the scheme in year 3. As I indicated in my Statement of 4 February, it is necessary at this stage to retain a portion of the year 3 funding as a contingency and I intend to retain £100 million.

A further announcement about the distribution of the remaining funding will be made in due course. This funding will be allocated to local authorities in full, in line with the policy purposes for which LABGI was designed. The exact methodology will be confirmed once any uncertainty associated with legal challenges has been resolved.

The Government, therefore, are able to allocate around £246 million to authorities at this stage for year 3 of the scheme. As in previous years, it will be necessary to apply a scaling factor to the calculated allocations in year 3 to ensure that the funding distributed does not exceed the amount available. Each authority’s allocation will be scaled back to 28 per cent.

Further details of the methodology used for calculating the latest payments for all three years of the scheme can be found in a technical note which is being published today on the Department for Communities and Local Government website at www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/labgi/technote0708.pdf.

Details of the proposed funding for each qualifying authority under the Government’s proposals can be found at www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/labgi/draftdtmn0708v2.pdf.

Copies of these documents are available in the Libraries of both Houses.


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