Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

19 May 2008 : Column WS71

19 May 2008 : Column WS71

Written Statements

Monday 19 May 2008

Armed Forces: National Recognition Study

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.

I wish to acknowledge the publication today of the report of the independent inquiry into the national recognition of the Armed Forces carried out by my honourable friend the Member for Grantham. My honourable friend was invited by the Government last December to examine ways of improving the nation’s understanding and appreciation of the Armed Forces.

The Government warmly welcome this report, which is comprehensive in its coverage, and is based on extensive consultation including with members of the Royal Family and both Houses of Parliament, devolved assemblies, civic leaders, serving and retired military personnel, Armed Forces support organisations and charities, religious leaders, business and the media.

The report makes many recommendations. Many of these will require detailed consideration or further work. But I am pleased to announce that the Government immediately accept a number of them and these will be implemented as soon as possible. They include greater encouragement on the wider use of uniforms in public, the creation a British Armed Forces and veterans’ day, more systematic arrangements for homecoming parades and ceremonies for the award of campaign medals and veterans’ badges, and an examination of the options to strengthen cadet forces and other education-related measures. The Government will engage with other organisations on those recommendations that are beyond the sole responsibility of Government, for example, on the proposals to improve relations with Parliament, local government, the business community and the media. We will be responding fully to all the recommendations as soon as possible.

I am very grateful to my honourable friend and his team—Mr Bill Clark and Air Commodore Martin Sharpe from the Ministry of Defence—for producing this report. It provides firm foundations to ensure that the work of our service personnel is better understood and recognised by the nation they serve

Copies of the report are being placed in the Library of the House, the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.

Department for Transport: Annual Report

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Ruth Kelly) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

19 May 2008 : Column WS72

I have today published my department’s annual report for 2008 (CM 7395). Copies have been laid before Parliament and placed in the House Libraries.

The report sets out the department’s activities and achievements over the past year. It also describes the department’s future expenditure plans for the period of the spending review 2007.

Department for Work and Pensions: Annual Report

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Purnell) has made the following Statement.

I am today able to announce the publication of the Department for Work and Pensions departmental report. The report provides details of the department’s performance in 2007-08 against its public service agreement targets and sets out the department’s expenditure plans for 2008-09.

Copies of the report are available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

Department of Health: Annual Report

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.

The department’s annual report for 2008 (Cm 7393) was laid before Parliament today.

The report is in the Library and copies are available to honourable Members from the Vote Office.

EU: Education, Youth and Culture Council

Lord Davies of Oldham: My right honourable friend the Minister for Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism (Margaret Hodge) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Education, Youth and Culture Council will be held on 21 and 22 May in Brussels. Rhodri Glyn Thomas, Minister for Heritage for Wales, will be representing the UK on 21 May when culture and audio-visual issues will be taken. Education and youth issues will be taken on 22 May.

The first item on the agenda concerns the council conclusions on a European approach to media literacy in the digital environment. The new audio-visual media services directive calls for the development of media literacy in all sections of society and for close inspection of progress in media literacy. It sets out a reporting obligation for the Commission to measure levels of media literacy in all the member states. In January this year the Commission adopted a communication on

19 May 2008 : Column WS73

the development and promotion of media literacy. The UK’s main proposals on the text have been incorporated into the conclusions which reflect the UK view that it will be appropriate to assess recent developments in this area and monitor the extent of media literacy in member states—as required under the new AVMS directive—before coming forward with proposals for a recommendation. The council is expected to adopt the conclusions and the Government intend to endorse this course of action.

The presidency will then seek to reach a general approach on the proposal establishing a multiannual community programme on protecting children using the internet and other communication technologies. This proposal is a renewal of the existing Safer Internet Plus Programme and will run from 2009-13. The programme promotes the safer use, particularly by children, of the internet and other online technologies, fighting illegal and harmful internet content ranging from child pornography to incitement to racial hatred.

It carries out this aim by a combination of funding for various programmes and by fostering co-operation between a wide range of organisations from business to child welfare NGOs. The Government intend to support this proposal.

There will then be an exchange of views on the communication on creative content online in the single market which was adopted by the Commission in January this year after consultation with stakeholders in government and industry. The communication establishes a content online platform that would bring together experts from across Europe in a forum for discussion. It also outlines the Commission’s plan for a recommendation of the council and Parliament on this area, due in the autumn. The scope of this recommendation is currently not defined, but it is likely to cover digital rights management systems, multiterritory rights licensing and legal offers and piracy. The UK’s response to the communication stated that we are not convinced that regulatory action at the European level at such an early stage in the development of this sector is the correct approach; work on digital rights management (DRM) is already being undertaken in several member states; the Commission’s evaluation of this issue would benefit from greater use of a more rigorous evidence base; engaging with stakeholders is the right approach but the Commission needs to ensure that their views are incorporated into any future proposals. The presidency is now asking two questions of Ministers at the council: what are the challenges facing creative content online and where would an EU-level initiative add value? Our contribution to the exchange of views will be similar to our original response.

The council will then be invited to adopt conclusions on intercultural competences.

The conclusions recognise, in this, the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue,the importance of such dialogue as a key tool in addressing some of the challenges Europe currently faces.

Intercultural competences are defined as communication in foreign languages, social and civic skills and cultural awareness and expression. Member states and the Commission are invited to promote intercultural competences through existing initiatives

19 May 2008 : Column WS74

in the fields of culture, education and youth and audio-visual policy. The conclusions on intercultural competences have been discussed and finalised at official level and the council is now expected to adopt the conclusions at this meeting. The Government intend to support the adoption of these conclusions.

The presidency will seek the adoption of council conclusions on the Work Plan for Culture 2008-10. In February this year the presidency drafted a discussion paper for member states on the Work Plan for Culture 2008-10 based on the five priority areas for action set out in the resolution on a European agenda for culture adopted by the council in November 2007. Working groups set up under each priority and chaired by member states will be consulted on the preparation of the studies relevant to their field of competence. These conclusions, which have been negotiated and agreed at official level, outline the objectives for each priority area. The UK has interests in all these areas, in particular the groups on the creative economy and on improving the mobility of collections. The Government intend to support the adoption of these conclusions.

Under any other business, the presidency and Commission will provide information on the state of play of proposals on the review of the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services. The Commission will present the communication on the protection of consumers, in particular minors, in respect of the use of video games. Belgium will raise concerns about satellite television channels from outside the EU which broadcast anti-Semitic material and incitement to hatred and terrorism and which can be received within the EU. The council may invite the Commission and the presidency to consider what measures can be taken to deal with such channels. Also under any other business will be an information item from the Swedish delegation raising concerns on the definition of the concept of books with regard to reduced VAT. The Government do not foresee any need to intervene on any of these items.

Ministry of Justice: Annual Report

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

I have today laid before Parliament the 2007-08 departmental annual report for the Ministry of Justice (Cm 7397).

The Ministry of Justice was established on 9 May 2007. It brought together the former responsibilities of the Department for Constitutional Affairs with the National Offender Management Service from the Home Office and the trilateral Office of Criminal Justice Reform. The new department has a wide-ranging remit with major responsibilities for prisons and probation, the courts and tribunals, legal aid and more, as well as important policy responsibilities ranging from constitutional reform and devolution, democracy and human rights to the justice system. When the department

19 May 2008 : Column WS75

was set up, the then Permanent Secretary commissioned a review to develop proposals for a new structure and ways of working to equip the department better to deliver on its aims and objectives.

Two other pieces of work have further improved the department's focus on its aims and objectives. Lord Carter’s report on prisons and the partnership between the Lord Chief Justice and I in the operation of the courts. The new top structure of the department came into place on 1 April with more detailed changes being implemented over the next few months to provide a coherent structure for managing the department's key challenges on public protection and reducing reoffending, constitutional reform and access to justice. This streamlined top structure and new ways of working will help the department to implement Lord Carter’s recommendations on offender management services, to ensure the successful operation of new arrangements for the courts and to focus more clearly on its key policy and delivery challenges.

The new structure will allow the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) to build on its success and take forward Lord Carter’s proposals for nationalising management structures and reducing overhead costs. It will also bring NOMS and the Prison Service together and streamline its headquarters so as to improve the focus on front-line delivery of prisons and the probation and improve efficiency.

This report highlights the achievements made by the Ministry of Justice and looks to the future at how the new structure aims to provide the department with a sharper focus on its key priorities. This includes public protection and reoffending and improving relations with the judiciary while streamlining leadership across the whole of the department’s agenda. It will ensure a much more joined-up approach to issues of justice and constitutional reform, with a clearer focus on efficiency through the removal of duplication and overlapping responsibilities.

The report is also available on the Ministry of Justice website at

School Teachers’ Review Body

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Following the publication of the 17th report Part 1 of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) (Cm 7252) on 15 January 2008, to which I responded in a Statement of that date, I have today written to consultees with the outcomes of my consultation on the report and my response. Copies of the letter are available in the Vote Office, the Printed Paper Office and in the Libraries of the House and at

I have also considered the outcomes of the consultation on the 17th report Part 2 of the STRB (Cm 7352), published together with my Statement on 9 April 2008. I shall be following up a number of

19 May 2008 : Column WS76

recommendations from that report concerning teachers’ professional responsibilities and leadership in the context of the next remit which I set for the STRB. I shall also be taking forward the recommendations regarding short-notice teachers’ pay arrangements as set out in my 9 April Statement, and seeking to ensure that account is taken of the particular position of unattached teachers in both the pay and the wider policy agenda.

I have today also written to the social partners, inviting them to consider what improvements we could make to the experience of teachers in the early years of their career. I believe that such teachers are in particular need of support and that we should together look at ways in which their careers can be given the best possible start. I have placed copies of this letter in the House Library.

Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007

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

I have today published the government response to the Transforming Tribunals, Implementing Part 1 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 consultation paper. Copies have been made available in the Libraries of both Houses and are available on the internet at

On behalf of the Government, I would like to thank all those who took the time to contribute to this extremely important debate on the future of tribunals’ delivery. Their insight and knowledge has proved invaluable in writing this response. The Government would also like to thank their Ministers and officials in other government departments for engagement and support in the implementation of the Act. In addition the Government are grateful to the Tribunals Service senior judiciary for their contribution and guidance throughout the consultation period.

Part 1 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 is a continuation of the reforms set into motion by Sir Andrew Leggatt in his paper Tribunals for Users: One System, One Service1. The 2007 Act creates a two-tier tribunal structure, the first-tier tribunal and upper tribunal, which will bring together existing Ministry of Justice tribunals and tribunals in other government departments. The first-tier tribunal will be the natural starting place for most jurisdictions, with onward appeal to the upper tribunal, which will also have the power to deal with judicial review work delegated from the High Court.

The response paper confirms that there will be social entitlement; general regulatory; health, education and social care; taxation and land, property and housing chambers in the first-tier tribunal and administrative appeals; finance and tax and lands chambers in the upper tribunal. Each of the chambers will be led by chamber presidents under the supervision of the Tribunal Service senior president, Lord Justice Carnwath. All

19 May 2008 : Column WS77

existing jurisdictions will be transferred into these chambers along with their judges and members. The Act allows for judges and members to sit in additional jurisdictions within their own or another chamber, if they satisfy the eligibility criteria for that chamber, and subject to training.

The Act also creates a Tribunals Procedure Committee that will be responsible for making tribunal procedure rules, and will bring greater consistency and simplicity to rules across jurisdictions. Appointments have been made to the committee and it will shortly begin consultation on procedure rules for the new tribunals.

The Government are committed to ongoing transformation of the tribunal environment, placing the user at the very heart of the service. In addition to the statutory changes introduced by the Act, the Tribunals Service is also undertaking a programme of work creating a network of multijurisdictional hearing centres, re-engineering administrative processes to improve case management, and exploring alternatives to standard hearings such as mediation, conciliation, and support and advice services. The implementation of the Act works alongside this transformation and is a vital part of it.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page