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The Government are keen to develop work quickly across a range of Sir Ian's recommendations and my department will continue to take the lead in driving this work forward as part of our primary focus on public protection. We intend now to proceed with the following.

First, we will continue with the complex and difficult work which the Home Office has been leading to enhance the information we have about the criminal histories of foreign nationals and UK citizens who have spent time abroad. We will do this both by making better use of existing information channels and by leading a process of improvement within Europe and more widely. This work will significantly improve the way we protect the public by ensuring relevant overseas data are available to inform the criminal justice process and key systems such as those used to vet and bar people seeking to work with children and vulnerable adults.

Secondly, we will build on, extend and strengthen existing streams of work, such as the programme the Home Office has led to implement the recommendations from the Bichard inquiry, to develop a clear strategic direction for the improvement of criminality information management across what Sir Ian is calling the public protection network. That will provide the framework for positive changes to sharing of criminality information, training for leaders and frontline staff and the ways in which we identify and respond to information-related risks.

Thirdly, the Home Office will be involved in an in-depth review of the way technology supports information flows between public protection organisations, drawing on the expertise of other departments and key organisations such as the National Policing Improvement Agency. A huge programme of work is already under way to strengthen information handling within policing and the broader criminal justice system, but we recognise the need to join up even more and sharpen the focus on public protection. There is also significant potential to save taxpayers' money through the re-use of existing technology and through reducing the amount of duplicate data held by various organisations.

Fourthly, Sir Ian has conducted some detailed work in specific areas of public protection and made recommendations that directly affect front line operations. We intend to implement these recommendations. Their focus is improving the way information is captured, stored and accessed, shared, analysed and acted upon, and managed. Full implementation of these recommendations will improve the quality of criminality information available to frontline staff who are making very difficult decisions on a day-to-day basis. In all these areas we will be building on the foundations of positive work which is already under way between the Home Office and its partners within the public protection network. For example, I anticipate we can:

work with the UK Border Agency to improve the use of criminality information to assist in deporting people in a timely and fair way; and

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improve the effectiveness of our vetting and barring processes so as to protect children and the vulnerable from those unsuitable to work with them.

Working together to protect the public is the fundamental statement of purpose for the Home Office. I want that to be the guiding principle for our policies to cut crime, provide effective policing, secure our borders and protect personal identity. The effective use and sharing of criminality information is critical to the successful delivery of those policies and Sir Ian's report provides us with the framework within which that can be achieved.

Copies of the documents have been placed in the Printed Paper Office and the Libraries of both Houses.

Defence Equipment and Support

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.

On 10 October 2006 (Official Report, Commons, col. 13-14WS) my predecessor announced the formation of Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and that elements of the new organisation were to be collocated in the Bath/Bristol area. DE&S was established on 1 April 2007 and in March this year a major business improvement programme, PACE (performance, agility, confidence, efficiency), was launched to drive forward the changes required to continue to improve support to the Armed Forces both now and in the future.

As part of this we have concluded that additional improvements to the provision of through-life military capability and logistics support to the front line can be realised through greater consolidation of DE&S business activities in Bristol. I am therefore announcing today, subject to consultation with the trades unions, the co-location of further elements of DE&S at Abbey Wood in Bristol. This will involve DE&S withdrawing in its entirety from Andover, Wyton, Caversfield and from both the Ensleigh and Foxhill sites in Bath, in a phased programme through to 2012. Those sites vacated by DE&S are being considered for further defence use. Under the DE&S programme, around 2,800 posts will move to Bristol, in addition to the 1,000 transfers already in hand. It will produce estimated savings of around £560 million over a 25 year period, is a key enabler for the PACE programme and is also part of a wider departmental estates rationalisation programme, reflecting the department’s commitment to maximising the funds available to support the front line.

Health: End-of-life Care

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 published the End of Life Care Strategy. This is the first time this country will have a long-term, comprehensive strategy for the care of adults at the end of their life. The strategy

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builds on the progress made over recent years and sets out a range of recommendations to deliver improvements in end-of-life care. Its aim is to deliver increased choice to all adult patients, regardless of their condition, about where they live and die and to improve care given in all settings, to patients, carers and families.

The strategy sets out how the manifesto commitment to double investment in palliative care will be met and how choice at the end of life will be improved. It sets out the responsibilities of commissioners of end-of-life care services and of all involved in the delivery of care. It complements and supports the visions for end-of-life care developed by strategic health authorities as part of the NHS next stage review.

The strategy has been placed in the Library and copies are available for honourable Members in the Vote Office.


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

I am today launching a document entitled Facing the Housing Challenge: Action Today, Innovation for Tomorrow. A copy will be placed in the Library.

We know that the vast majority of people aspire to home ownership. This is more than an economic calculation—it represents their hopes and dreams for their families. Across government, we value and support these aspirations. And we are absolutely committed to making sure that everyone can find the housing that meets their needs.

So this time last year, we published a housing Green Paper, setting out our plans for the biggest house-building programme in decades. It set out our long-term plans to meet the housing needs of our aging, growing population, with a major increase in supply to address increasing demand, helping those families and first-time buyers priced out of the property market.

More recently, however, the international housing market has experienced significant challenges as a result of turbulence in the global financial markets. People are finding it harder to get a mortgage; we have seen falls in house prices and housebuilders are now experiencing difficult business conditions after years of extremely favourable circumstances.

But the long-term demographic trends remain the same. And without action now, we risk frustrating many more potential first-time buyers and growing families in the future. Our target to achieve a rate of 240,000 new homes per year by 2016 was set to address these long-term trends and we remain absolutely committed to increasing supply to this level to respond to this long-term demand.

The signs are that current market conditions will lead to a fall in housing completions this year, which makes our targets of 2 million homes by 2016 and 3 million by 2020 challenging, particularly if the current conditions are protracted.

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However, the development industry has shown before it is capable of responding and delivering substantial increases in new homes over a short period—from around 130,000 net additions in 2001-02 to approaching 200,000 in 2006-07. We therefore remain committed to our overall target of 3 million homes by 2020 as the right long-term goal, whilst recognising the scale of the challenge this entails.

We need now to retain our focus on stimulating market conditions, seeking new ways to deliver the housing this country urgently needs and ensuring there is a planning framework that will support a rapid market recovery.

So we are publishing this document to set out our next steps in this housing delivery programme, helping to strike the right balance in responding to both current conditions and long-term challenges.

We invest around £6 billion per year in housing and regeneration programmes. Our priorities for these resources are to:

provide greater help for first-time buyers;help existing homeowners facing difficulties due to problems in the international financial markets;keep housing supply, particularly affordable housing supply, as high as possible during the current difficulties, in order to keep on track to meet our targets; andmaintain capacity and create the right conditions for recovery and longer-term growth.

We are therefore setting out a package of measures in this document to achieve these objectives. These include:

the pilot of a “rent to homebuy” scheme, led by the Housing Corporation, which will aim to help prospective buyers who are unable to take advantage of current shared ownership schemes, perhaps because they cannot find a suitable mortgage. The scheme will enable eligible households to rent a new-build property, at less than market rates, for a pre-specified period, with the option to buy a share in the home at the end of that time; plans from the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, Newcastle City Council, Nottingham City Council and Manchester City Council to launch the first pilot local housing companies. These have the potential to deliver up to 10,000 new homes. They represent a new model of working which combines local authority land assets with private sector investment, enhancing delivery of new homes and communities. This represents just one of the ways that local authorities will play a central role in delivering the housing the country needs; confirmation that more funding, beyond the £200 million already allocated from the affordable housing budget, could be made available to purchase high quality unsold stock, in the right locations, for the right price. This would help deliver our demanding affordable housing targets, while also supporting housebuilders;proposals to support delivery of up to 75,000 homes in 20 more towns and cities in the next stage of the growth points programme. These will combine increased housing with new jobs, town centre

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regeneration, and higher design and environmental standards. We will invest £100 million in helping these areas to realise their ambitions for sustainable growth. Further details of the new growth points can be found in the Partnership for Growth document, being published today, which will be placed in the Library;provisional allocations of the £510 million housing and planning delivery grant, to support those local authorities that are taking action to meet housing needs, and reward those that are preparing plans and identifying land supply for delivery. We will keep this under review for the next three years to ensure that it remains an effective incentive for delivery. We will also develop proposals for specific incentives to deliver affordable housing from 2010-11. Further details are set out in Housing and Planning Delivery Grant: Allocation Mechanism and Summary of Consultation Responses. A copy will be placed in the Library, along with the schedule of provisional allocations; a commitment to working with our stakeholders to explore the viability and practicality of mortgage rescue schemes, building on the example of local authorities and housing associations which already offer such schemes; new consumer advice and information for those concerned about mortgage repayments from the National Housing Advice Service; andthe appointment of Baroness Margaret Ford to work for Partnerships UK in identifying and releasing surplus public sector land for housing delivery, particularly land owned by central government departments and their agencies.

Alongside this document, I am publishing an open letter which sets out our response to the Callcutt review of housing supply. We have accepted a number of the recommendations from John Callcutt. These include the creation of a zero-carbon unit to co-ordinate and guide the programme of work to deliver zero-carbon housing from 2016, and further work to develop skills within the house-building industry.

I am also publishing a summary of the Pomeroy review of private-sector shared equity. Brian Pomeroy was tasked with examining how the private-sector shared-equity market is developing and what the private and public sector might do to facilitate its development. The review found that there were no major institutional barriers which were preventing a shared equity market from developing and there remains an interest in developing suitable shared equity products when conditions improve. The full text has not been published as it contains confidential information, but the summary sets out the main findings. A copy has been placed in the Library.

Finally, effective regional and local planning for the medium and long term is essential if we are to reach the target of 240 000 homes per year from 2016. We will now work with regional partners on a flexible basis to agree the work programmes and timetables with each regional planning body. The National Housing and Planning Advice Unit recently provided the Government with advice on the numbers it felt should be considered in regional strategy reviews. I am today

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writing to all regional assembly chairs, the North West Regional Leaders Forum, and the Mayor of London with guidance on how we expect the advice from the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit to be used.

Facing the Housing Challenge: Action Today, Innovation for Tomorrow outlines a broad response to the impact of the disruption in international financial markets on the housing market. This package will both help people facing difficulties today, and lay the foundations to help meet the long-term housing needs of the country.

However, it is not the end of the process. We will review progress and reflect on new approaches, incentives or support mechanisms which will both help address the current difficulties and deliver our longer-term programme. And we will take a proactive approach wherever it is clear that we can do more to support consumers and industry.

Information Commissioner

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

I am today publishing a consultation on the Information Commissioner’s inspection powers and on funding the Information Commissioner’s duties under the Data Protection Act 1998.

The Government want to ensure that the Information Commissioner has the powers and resources to continue to be able to carry out his duties under the Data Protection Act 1998 effectively, in a rapidly changing environment. Good regulation is essential to support a robust data protection framework. The use of information underpins the Government’s ability to deliver benefits for the citizen through improved public services, new opportunities for the most disadvantaged, protection from crime and terrorism and sustaining economic well being.

Our proposals have been informed by the Data Sharing Review Report published on Friday 11 July. The Government welcome the review, which provides a comprehensive look at the use and protection of personal information in today’s society. I am grateful for the invaluable and thorough work that Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, and Dr Mark Walport, of the Wellcome Trust, have done in this complex area.

In October 2007, the Prime Minister invited Richard Thomas and Dr Mark Walport to undertake an independent review of the framework for the use of personal information—in both the private and public sector.

The objectives of the review were to consider whether there should be any changes to the way the Data Protection Act 1998 operates in the UK and explore options for implementing any possible changes. The review also made recommendations on the powers and sanctions available to the regulator and courts in the legislation governing data sharing and data protection, as well as how the Government should develop data sharing policy in a way that ensures proper transparency, scrutiny and accountability.

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I welcome the review’s recommendations and agree that measures need to be taken to increase public trust and confidence in the handling and processing of personal data by Government and the private sector. The Government will consider how best to take forward the remaining recommendations and they will respond in detail in autumn 2008.

Copies of the consultation will be made available in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. It is also available on the internet at:

Northern Ireland Prison Service

Lord Rooker: My honourable friend the Minister of State for Northern Ireland (Paul Goggins) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Copies of the Northern Ireland Prison Service’s annual report and accounts for 2007-08 are available in the Vote Office.

Prisoners: Reoffending

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.

I am, with my right honourable friend the Minister of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Beverley Hughes), announcing the national targets for reducing adult and youth reoffending. Our new challenging targets will help drive a focus across government on those offenders who commit the highest number of offences and cause the most damage to communities.

The new national targets are:

to reduce the adult reoffending rate by 10 per cent between 2005 and 2011; and to reduce the youth reoffending rate by 10 per cent between 2005 and 2011.

(The reoffending rate is defined as the number of reoffences per 100 offenders (frequency)).

These targets demonstrate the Government’s continuing commitment to tackling reoffending. For adult offenders, this commitment has seen a 7.4 per cent reduction in the number of reoffenders compared to a predicted rate, and an 11.4 per cent fall in the frequency rate of reoffending between 2000 and 2005. For juvenile reoffenders, while the number of reoffenders has remained stable, we have seen a 17.4 per cent fall in the frequency rate of reoffending between 2000 and 2005.

These targets underpin an indicator in the Make Communities Safer public service agreement, published last year, which set out how we will work to reduce adult and youth reoffending and reduce crime.

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