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12 May 2008 : Column WS39



12 May 2008 : Column WS39

Written Statements

Monday 12 May 2008

Anti-Semitism

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.

I am pleased to announce that I am today laying before Parliament and publishing the Government’s one-year-on response to the all-party inquiry into anti-Semitism.

Just over a year ago, Government responded to the all-party parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism report and undertook to report back to Parliament on progress in implementing its recommendations.

We believe that the best way to tackle anti-Semitism is through effective implementation of strong legislation against racial and religious discrimination and racially and religiously motivated crime. This must be underpinned by policies and strategies to increase racial equality and build community cohesion, particularly through education.

We have made significant progress against the 35 recommendations made by the all-party parliamentary inquiry’s constructive and comprehensive report. We have ensured that by April 2009 all police forces will collect data on all hate crime, including anti-Semitism; agreed that schools and authorities can use their devolved capital funding for investment in security at schools where this is a priority; committed to funding research on the impact of anti-Semitic discourse; and launched the Race for Justice Declaration, a cross-government strategy that aims to combat all forms of hate crime.

Despite this progress, there is no room for complacency and we will continue to take practical, effective action to stamp out anti-Semitism whenever and wherever it occurs. We are committed to increasing the number of hate crimes brought to prosecution, tackling anti-Semitism on university campuses and challenging hate crime and extremism on the internet. We have agreed to continue our support of the cross-departmental and Jewish stakeholder working group and will report back to Parliament on further progress in 2010.

This publication is available in the Libraries of both Houses.

Cyprus: British Troops

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.



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A new call-out order has been made under Section 56 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to enable members of the reserve forces to continue to be called out into permanent service and deployed to Cyprus as part of the UK’s contribution to the United Nations Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP). Currently some 35 reservists are deployed as part of 7 Transport Regiment RLC, which will be followed with a deployment of over 250 reservists in October. The call-out order has effect until 30 April 2009.

Farepak

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Lord Jones of Birmingham): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade Policy (Gareth Thomas) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Following my Written Statement on Farepak of 10 December, I would like to report to the House that the investigation into Farepak and other companies in the European Home Retail group has been completed.

The investigation

The investigation has taken longer than expected to complete because it involved collecting and often reconstructing the financial and other records of a group of companies, including Farepak, which had ceased to trade and were in administration. The report is over 700 pages long and could lead to court proceedings, so taking short cuts in the investigation was not an option.

Legal advice is being obtained on the report to decide what further action is merited. This is a process that must be carried out confidentially to avoid prejudicing any action that may result and to protect the reputations and interests of those whose conduct is being scrutinised but in respect of whom no decisions have yet been made. As I said in my earlier Statement, if proceedings are taken against any party involved, this will become public knowledge if or when the case reaches open court. We will do everything in our power to process this quickly.

The report cannot, in any case be published because there is no provision for reports carried out under the Companies Act such as these (under Section 447) to be published. In fact, unauthorised disclosure is a criminal offence.

The Government have great sympathy with those people who have lost money that they saved as a result of the collapse of Farepak. We are doing all we can to prevent other families suffering similar problems in the future. BERR has worked with the remaining hamper companies to put in place effective protection for customers’ prepayments. The Government have given the OFT funding for a new awareness campaign so that consumers are better aware of their options for Christmas savings. My department is now considering the report, alongside other advice received, to assess whether further action, including possible new regulation, is necessary in the light of the action that has been taken by the surviving Christmas savings schemes.



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The report is also being disclosed to the Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB) to assist in the investigation that it announced in June 2007 into the role of accountants within Farepak and other companies.

Health: Care and Support

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement

In October 2007, the Comprehensive Spending Review contained a commitment that the Government would undertake work to look at reform options for the care and support system and consult on a way forward. It also stated that the Government would set out a process involving extensive public engagement, ultimately leading to a Green Paper identifying key issues and options for reform.

Today we are launching a six-month engagement process with the public and all those involved in care and support for adults to set out clearly the case for reform and to consult on a number of questions. This is set out in the document The Case for Change—Why England Needs a New Care and Support System, which is being published today to mark the beginning of this engagement process. The responses to these questions will inform the development of a number of reform options, to be set out in the Green Paper.

This process, although led by the Department of Health, involves work across a number of other government departments, reflecting the fact that care and support encompass many different types of services and assistance. Ensuring effective and sustainable care and support in a society where people are living longer is one of the major public policy challenges of our time. This engagement process is an opportunity for the public to help to shape a response to this challenge.

A copy of the document has been placed in the Library and copies are available to honourable Members from the Vote Office.

Health: Next-stage Review

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement

In my oral Statement of 10 October 2007 (Official Report, Commons, col. 297), I notified the House that my noble friend Lord Darzi had published an interim report as part of the NHS next-stage review. I am writing to update the House on the progress of the review as Lord Darzi has today published Leading Local Change.

The Prime Minister and I asked Lord Darzi to lead the review in July 2007. His interim report in October set out a vision for a world-class NHS that is fair, personal, effective and safe.



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The review has been led locally by clinicians in each NHS region. Seventy-four local clinical working groups, made up of some 2,000 clinicians, have been looking at the clinical evidence and engaging with their local communities. They have developed improved models of care for their regions to ensure that the NHS is up to date with the latest clinical developments and is able to meet changing needs and expectations.

Lord Darzi is today publishing Leading Local Change to set the context for these local visions and the principles that will guide their implementation. We are also publishing new operational guidance, as promised in October’s interim report, to help to ensure that any changes are based on clinical evidence and are in the best interest of patients. As part of this, we are making five pledges on change in the NHS, which primary care trusts will have a duty to have regard to:

change will always be to the benefit of patients. This means that change will improve the quality of care that patients receive, whether in terms of clinical outcomes, experiences, or safety;change will be clinically driven. We will ensure that change is to the benefit of patients by making sure that it is always led by clinicians and based on the best available clinical evidence;all change will be locally led. Meeting the challenge of being a universal service means that the NHS must meet the different needs of everyone. Universal is not the same as uniform. Different places have different and changing needs, and local needs are best met by local solutions;local communities will be involved. The local NHS will involve patients, carers, the public and other key partners. Those affected by proposed changes will have the chance to have their say and offer their contribution. NHS organisations will work openly and collaboratively; andlocal communities will see the difference first. Existing services will not be withdrawn until new and better services are available to patients so that they can see the difference.

The nine strategic health authorities (SHAs) outside London will be publishing their strategic visions for improving health and healthcare in their regions over the coming weeks in accordance with the following timetable.

The SHA strategic visions will be published as follows:

12 May

East of England

14 May

Yorkshire and Humber

15 May

South-west

19 May

South Central

20 May

North-west

22 May

North-east

2 June

South-east Coast

3 June

West Midlands

5 June

East Midlands



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Lord Darzi will publish his final report in June. It will be designed to enable and support the improvements that have been determined locally in the SHA strategic visions.

I firmly believe that this approach, led by clinicians, based on clinical evidence and strong engagement with local communities, is how changes to the NHS should take place as we move from an NHS that is world class in many aspects to one that is world class in everything that it does.

National Insurance

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform (Stephen Timms) has made the following Statement.

Over the course of 2008, the Government are reintroducing procedures to count foreign nationals in and out of the UK. We are introducing ID cards for foreign nationals, on a compulsory basis, to guard against fraudulent access to jobs and benefits. As part of our cross-governmental enforcement strategy, the DWP will further tighten the criteria for national insurance number (NINO) allocation to ensure that, where the partner of a legitimate benefit claimant has no right to be in the UK, DWP will no longer issue the partner with a NINO. This follows the successful introduction of right-to-work interviews for those applying for national insurance numbers in 2006.

This change will be made using the regulation-making powers under Section 1 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992. The intention is that regulation changes will be introduced at the earliest opportunity.

Planning: East of England Plan

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 the east of England plan (the revision to the east of England regional spatial strategy) together with the accompanying supporting statement, which includes a summary of the consultation responses and a sustainability statement. This is the first of a series of comprehensive reviews of regional spatial strategy to be completed under the provisions of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. The final east of England plan reflects consideration of responses to the consultations on the Secretary of State’s proposed changes and further proposed changes that were made in the light of the recommendations of the independent panel that conducted an examination in public into the draft plan.



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The east of England plan is crucial to putting in place the Government’s sustainable growth strategy within the east of England. It builds on the foundations of the draft east of England plan, which was prepared by the East of England Regional Assembly, and the findings of the independent panel that conducted an examination in public.

The east of England plan replaces the regional planning guidance for East Anglia and relevant parts of the regional planning guidance for the south-east within the regional spatial strategy for the east of England. Its main purpose is to provide a framework for local planning authorities to prepare their development plan documents, which must be in general conformity with it.

The strategy aims to guide development in the east of England to 2021 and to set in place a direction of travel for the longer term. It requires the provision of 508,000 dwellings within the region between 2001 and 2021.

The plan adopts the independent panel’s conclusion that a case for higher growth was made but that it must and can be reconciled with sustainability and environmental constraints. The plan supports a spatial strategy with development focused on the main urban areas, such as Cambridge, Peterborough and Stevenage, including the growth points at Norwich, Colchester, Ipswich and Thetford. It identifies Hemel Hempstead, Welwyn/Hatfield and Chelmsford as additional growth locations close to London.

Other aspects of the plan include the regional transport strategy, the waste strategy, policies for achieving efficiency savings in water and energy consumption and policies for improving water resource and waste water infrastructure. The plan reflects the increased urgency to reduce carbon emissions, requiring local authorities to promote renewable and low-carbon energy development and the regional assembly to develop regional targets for the carbon performance of new development.

In regard to the green belt, the plan provides that the review at Harlow extend to the north of the town and the review at Welwyn/Hatfield may extend into St Albans. It adds additional guidance on the basis for assessing the area to be released and requires compensatory green-belt extensions to the north of Harlow and west of Stevenage, which will increase the extent of green belt in the region. In regard to transport, the plan identifies priority areas where further measures are needed to tackle congestion and to support growth.

The plan was subject to assessment under the habitats regulations. The sustainability statement concludes that the plan is in accordance with the principles of sustainable development and that the additional growth and changes to distribution do not give rise to adverse environmental impacts.

Reflecting the levels of development confirmed through the plan, we are today confirming that five districts are to be included in the growth areas with growth area funding confirmed. Chelmsford and St Edmundsbury are brought within the London-

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Stansted-Cambridge-Peterborough growth area and Dacorum, St Albans and Welwyn/Hatfield are included in the growth area programme with further discussions with partners about which growth area they should be part of. We are also confirming King’s Lynn’s bid for growth point status.


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