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I am publishing today, and placing in the Libraries of both Houses, Sir Joseph Pillings report of his independent strategic review of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the UKs aviation regulator. I commissioned this review last September, following a recommendation by the Transport Committee of this House.
I am grateful to Sir Joseph for his thoughtful report and his recognition of the important contribution which the CAA makes to aviation in the UK and internationally. He found that the CAA has been and continues to be highly successful, but he concluded that its framework and organisation could be modernised to meet future challenges in the fast-changing aviation sector.
Some of Sir Josephs recommendations are for the Government, including some which are relevant to the separate review of airport economic regulation which I announced recently, and to work on improving the passenger experience. I intend to consider these recommendations in detail over the summer and to make a fuller statement in the autumn. Interested parties who wish to comment on the report should write to me by the end of September.
Some of the key recommendations deal with the CAAs governance and would bring the way that the organisation operates more in line with modern regulatory practice. It would be advantageous to make the governance reforms soon, to help lead the further changes envisaged.
The current chair, Sir Roy McNulty, completes his term next year after a very distinguished period in that office since 2001. My department will shortly start the process of seeking a part-time non-executive chair and then a new chief executive, on the basis envisaged by Sir Joseph Pilling.
Subsequent to Written Answers I gave on 29 January, 11 March and 2 April 2008, to Parliamentary Questions on data handling, I would like to inform the House that further investigation has revealed additional information.
The response to the honourable Member for Chipping Barnet (Question 175768) [Official Report, Commons 29 January 2008; col. 197W] should have included reference to three further instances of data being accessible overseas:
First, the Vehicle Operator Services Agency has an IT contract with Siemens covering the computerisation of the MoT Scheme. The Siemens data centre is based in the UK and all operational data are stored in the UK. However, some of the data were processed by Siemens staff in India on a controlled basis for the purpose of correcting and updating software code. The data were not transferred to a physical storage device outside the UK, and the data could not be saved, amended or copied to any device in India.
Separately, the central department has a contract with Siemens for a public inquiry service that uses a system provided under contract by RightNow Technologies. That company backs up the information transporting the data electronically via an encrypted channel to its disaster recovery centre in Chicago where it is held in an unencrypted form in a physically secure environment. A further unencrypted tape backup is maintained by Iron Mountain in a vault in New Jersey. The information includes business contact details of DfT staff, and details of calls and callers name and telephone number for queries that have been referred to the DfT internal team for answer.
Finally the central department uses an online survey site hosted by SurveyMonkey.com, a US company whose site is hosted in the United States. This facility has been used by the department to conduct surveys including staff surveys. Personal information relating to DfT staff included name, workplace address, qualifications and employment experience. It was also used by VOSA to get feedback on staff events such as their annual conference.
The central department uses an online survey site hosted by SurveyMonkey.com, a US registered company whose site is hosted in the United States. This facility has been used by the department to conduct surveys including staff surveys. Personal information relating to DfT staff included name, workplace address, qualifications and employment experience. It was also used by VOSA to get feedback on staff events such as their annual conference.
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 pleased to announce that the Department for Work and Pensions has today laid in the House the 2007-08 annual reports and accounts for its executive agencies: Jobcentre Plus (HC 707), the Pension Service (HC 855), the Disability and Carers Service (HC 719), and the Rent Service (HC 729). The annual report and accounts of the Child Support Agency will be laid shortly.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Ben Bradshaw) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I have today published a list of official receptions hosted by Ministers at the Department of Health for the financial year 2007-08. The total cost of official receptions for the financial year 2007-08 was £2,129.
|Official Receptions hosted by Department of Health Ministers 2007-08
The ombudsman's investigation was launched in 2004 following the publication of Lord Penrose's independent forensic investigation into the events at Equitable Life (HC 290). He concluded that Equitable Lifes own actions ultimately precipitated its financial difficulties in the summer of 2000.
The ombudsman has looked at the application of the now replaced prudential regulatory regime under the Insurance Companies Act 1982. Her investigation has covered issues of considerable factual and technical complexity.
Against this backdrop, it was necessary for the bodies subject to the ombudsmans investigation to make detailed representations on a number of occasions throughout the investigation. Those representations were put forward at the ombudsmans request to assist her review of the evidence. They highlighted substantive differences of view between the bodies and the ombudsman which she has responded to in the report published today.
The Government recognise that the ombudsmans report raises issues of concern to all interested parties. The length and complexity of the report mean that the Government will need to consider the report carefully before giving a response to the House in the autumn.
Budget Ecofin will be held on 17 July in Brussels and the UK Permanent Representative will attend and represent the UK. Discussion will be on the preliminary draft budget for the European Communities for 2009 and the meeting will include conciliation with the European Parliament, during which Council and the European Parliament will discuss expenditure levels. Items on the agenda are as follows:Preparation for the conciliation meeting with the European Parliament;Conciliation with the European Parliament;Establishment by the Council of the draft EC Budget for 2009.
The French presidency presented the Ecofin work programme for the next six months followed by an exchange of views. As part of the agreed three-presidency approach, the French presidency will begin the first stages of the common priorities agreed with the incoming Czech and Swedish presidencies in 2009. These priorities include boosting confidence in the financial system, continuing the integration of the internal market, and responding to citizens' concerns about the current economic situation. The UK supports the proposed work programme.
The Council adopted opinions on the updated stability programme for Belgium and the updated convergence programme for Poland. Ministers also agreed to a draft decision ending the excessive deficit procedure for Poland, repealing Ecofins decision in 2004 noting the existence of an excessive government deficit. In addition the Council agreed to a decision and recommendations under Articles 104(6) and 104(7) of the EC treaty with regard to the UK, placing the UK in excessive deficit procedure.
The Council adopted the legislative Acts required for the adoption of the euro by Slovakia from January 2009, finalising the agreement at the June European Council, and adopted regulations for the conversion rate of 30.1260 Slovak korunas to the euro. The UK congratulates Slovakia on the substantial reforms made in order to meet the Maastricht criteria for entry into the single currency.
Following the discussion at the June European Council, Ministers held an exchange of views on the situation in the oil and fuel markets and on the French presidency work programme to prepare Ecofins contribution to the October and December European Councils. This included reaching political agreement on the principle of weekly publication of oil stock information. The UK supports the work under way to better understand what is driving the development of oil prices under the guiding principles set out in the Manchester 2005 declaration on the need to avoid distortionary fiscal interventions in the oil markets.
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