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7 July 2008 : Column WS25



7 July 2008 : Column WS25

Written Statements

Monday 7 July 2008

Financial Capability

Lord Davies of Oldham: My right honourable friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Yvette Cooper) has made the following Written Statement.

The Treasury and the Financial Services Authority are today publishing Helping You Make the Most of Your Money: A Joint Action Plan for Financial Capability. This sets out how the Government and the FSA will support people in the short term with practical help on their money questions and worries—before they turn into problems—and will equip them with the skills, knowledge and confidence to manage their money well, now and in the future.

Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and are available in the Vote Office.

Health: Medical Careers

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.

Today, the Government have laid before Parliament their response to the report from the Health Select Committee on modernising medical careers (MMC) (Cm 7338).

The department has already apologised for the difficulties encountered in 2007. It is crucial that the Government learn lessons from these problems, rebuild their relationship with the medical profession at all levels and, in consultation with it, design the best possible structure and systems for recruiting and training doctors in future.

We are grateful to those who have carefully investigated the background to what went wrong in 2007. This includes the Health Committee itself and Professor Sir John Tooke, who was commissioned by the department to carry out an independent review of MMC and who published his final report in January this year.

While we acknowledge that we have some way to go, it is important to record that much progress has been made over the past year, not least through the crucial work of the MMC England programme board, which has produced a recruitment and selection process that is more equitable and has the broad support of the medical profession.

We are grateful for the Select Committee’s recognition that the MMC England programme board has offered the medical profession a more meaningful role in decision-making and that MMC governance arrangements have been simplified and improved. We agree with the committee that the mixed economy model for specialist training structures—offering both run-through and uncoupled training posts—should continue for the time being.



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A stakeholder event on this important issue was held on 3 June to meet the aim of working with the profession and building consensus on the way forward. There was broad agreement from participants that there should be no rush to introduce changes in 2009 although further work and debate is needed.

With regard to recruitment and selection, we agree that responsibility should be devolved to deaneries with some elements of central co-ordination and guidance and we further agree that there should be a staged recruitment process established in the future, expanding the additional flexibility that has already been built into the process for this year.

The House of Lords ruling on 30 April prevented the implementation of long-standing policy guidance for managing access to specialty training posts by doctors from outside the European economic area (EEA). However, there is wide consensus that government intervention is necessary and justified to maximise the training opportunities for UK-trained doctors. The changes to the Immigration Rules announced by the Home Office in February 2008 have been well received by the medical profession and will stand while we discuss with all those involved how best to resolve this issue.

We have noted and considered carefully the proposals put forward by both Sir John Tooke and the Health Committee regarding the establishment of NHS Medical Education England (NHSMEE) and the future of the MMC England programme board. There is a clear future for both types of organisation, with NHSMEE providing high-level direction setting and scrutiny and the programme board continuing its successful focus on the operational implementation of policy.

Our proposals for NHSMEE contain some changes to the remit originally envisaged by Sir John, but both the original case and counter-arguments had strengths. In respect of the programme board, responsibility for operational requirements and the implementation of policy will be devolved to the NHS and operational elements of the existing Department of Health MMC team will be devolved to the control of a strategic health authority (SHA) on behalf of the NHS in a way that carefully ensures business continuity of a function that is recognised as having made progress.

Ministry of Defence: Key Targets

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Key targets for the financial year 2008-09 for the following Ministry of Defence agencies have been placed in the Library of the House:

Defence Vetting Agency;

Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency;

People Pay and Pensions Agency; and

Service Personnel and Veterans Agency.

Key targets in respect of Service Children’s Education will be published shortly.



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Ordnance Survey: Performance Targets

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 following performance targets have been set for Ordnance Survey in 2008-09. Ordnance Survey will report externally against a set of agency performance monitors as required of all executive agencies in government:

to achieve an operating profit before exceptional items, interest and dividends of £15.7 million for the financial year 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009;some 99.6 per cent of significant real-world features are represented in the database within six months of completion;to continuously improve the timeliness of the supply of Ordnance Survey’s data to customers with a success rate not lower than 97 per cent;to reduce carbon emissions from Ordnance Survey headquarters by 30 per cent against the base year of 2000-01 by March 2009; and to achieve an improvement of 5 per cent in online business on planned 2007-08 baseline transaction levels (for example, a rise from 94,816 to 99,557 transactions) through Ordnance Survey’s OS MasterMap Service and Consumer e-Commerce platform.

These targets reflect Ordnance Survey’s continuing commitment to customers, improved value for money for all its stakeholders and commitment to government policies.

Prisons: Drugs

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 (Jack Straw) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In the prison policy update document published in January this year, I announced a major drive to overcome some of the principal barriers to the reform and rehabilitation of offenders. As part of that, I asked the director-general of the then Prison Service to commission a review of the supply of illicit drugs into prisons. As a result, Mr David Blakey, a former inspector of constabulary and Chief Constable of West Mercia, was commissioned to conduct a review into the effectiveness of HM Prison Service’s measures for disrupting the supply of drugs into prisons and to

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make recommendations for improvements. I am grateful to Mr Blakey for his considered and well targeted report.

The report makes 10 recommendations, ranging from suggestions to roll out mobile phone blocking technology to fostering the good work that we have been taking forward in intelligence. The director-general of the National Offender Management Service and I have acceptedall the recommendations and I have asked him to implement them as soon as practicable

Disruption of supply is just one part of the NOMS drug strategy for prisons. The strategy has three key elements:

reducing demand, through targeted interventions for low, moderate and severe drug-misusers; reducing supply, through security measures and drug-testing programmes; andestablishing effective throughcare links to ensure continuity of treatment post-release in order to safeguard the gains made in custody.

NOMS has in place a comprehensive drug treatment framework, based on the National Treatment Agency’s revised models of care, to address the different needs of drug misusers in prison. Treatment interventions include: clinical services (detoxification and/or maintenance prescribing); CARATs (counselling, assessment, referral, advice and throughcare services), a range of interventions that, following assessment, deliver treatment and support; and drug rehabilitation programmes, which focus on addressing the attitudes and behaviour of drug misusers.

Copies of the Blakey report and the full, detailed government response have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. Both documents are also available at: www.justice.gov.uk.

Written Answers: Summer Recess

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): In 2007, following an experiment in 2006, the House agreed to permanent arrangements for tabling Questions for Written Answer (QWAs), and making Written Ministerial Statements, during the Summer Recess. Under these arrangements there are two opportunities during the Recess, on dates to be announced by the Leader of the House, for the tabling of QWAs. Answers are made available online as they are received and an edition of Hansard is published on the day after the second day, in which Answers received by that time are published, together with Written Ministerial Statements.

It has been agreed through the usual channels that the dates for tabling QWAs during the Summer Recess 2008 will be Monday 1 September and Monday 29 September.


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