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Written Statements

The following statements were received between Tuesday 9 September and Monday 15 September 2008

Armed Forces: Low Flying

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

I have today placed in the Library of the House a revised report giving a detailed account of the low-flying training that has taken place in the UK low-flying system for the training year April 2007 to March 2008.

The original report placed on 21 July 2008 was found to contain a number of printing errors which have been corrected.

The report can be viewed on the MoD’s website:

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/WhatWeDo/AirSafetyandAviation/LowFlying/

Armed Forces: Service Children's Education

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

The chief executive of Service Children’s Education has been set the following key targets for 2008-09.

Key Target 1

To match England performance at key stages 1, 2 and 3 in all subject elements.

Key Target 2

In each of the key stages 1, 2 and 3 exceed national (England) achievement by 3 per cent in a majority of the 12 subject elements.

At the higher levels of attainment (that is, level 3+ at key stage1, level 5+ at key stage 2, level 6+ at key stage 3) match or exceed the national level of performance in 10 of the 12 subject elements.

Key Target 3

At GCSE level, improve the percentage of pupils achieving 5 or more A* to C (including mathematics and English) from 2007-08 (45 per cent).

At GCSE level, achieve an average points score within 10 points of the national (England) “capped” upper quartile figure.

At GCE A-level, achieve 72 per cent of pupil entries obtaining grades A to C.

Key Target 4

SCE to achieve a notional position in the English local authority league tables, within the leading 25 (of 150) LAs at each of key stages 1, 2 and 3.



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Key Target 5

To achieve grade 3, or above, for the overall effectiveness of the school in 100 per cent of schools inspected, and grade 2, or above, in not less than 66 per cent of schools inspected.

Key Target 6

To achieve an overall parental customer satisfaction rating of at least 85 per cent in the 2008-09 parental survey.

Child Maintenance

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

As honourable Members are aware, the provisions of the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 will enable the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission to introduce a range of new collection and enforcement tools in order to improve compliance.

These new powers include the ability to use a deduction from earnings order (DEO) as a basic method of collecting child maintenance. Up to now, the Child Support Agency has used a DEO in circumstances where other suitable payment arrangements cannot be agreed or have broken down.

Compliance rates for DEOs are second only to those for direct debits and, as we made clear during the passage of the new legislation, the intention is for the commission to pilot the use of DEOs as the primary method of collection for employed non-resident parents.

The design and timing of the pilot will need to be carefully planned so it cannot begin immediately. But the commission is determined to improve compliance as soon as possible in order to get more money flowing to children. It is therefore intending to make use of the new power through regulations, which will enable the commission to implement an interim approach to the collection of child maintenance in order to increase compliance.

This will mean that non-resident parents who have not already agreed a method of paying their child maintenance will be offered the choice of either a direct debit or a deduction from earnings order—the payment methods with the best compliance rates. An alternative method of payment will be used only where the non-resident parent cannot pay by direct debit and there is good reason for a deduction from earnings order not to be used. There will be a right of appeal to a magistrates’ court (or sheriff in Scotland) against a decision by the commission that there is no good reason for a DEO not to be used.

The change, which the commission plans to introduce by the end of this year, will not affect those non-resident parents who pay their maintenance direct to the parent with care or who have their child maintenance payments deducted from their benefit. Non-resident parents who have already agreed a payment method with the commission before the change is introduced will be able to continue to pay by their chosen method.



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Courts: Front-office Services

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

On 15 September 2008, the board of Her Majesty’s Courts Service, with my approval, has published a new framework for the provision of front-office services in civil courts.

The new framework consists of national minimum standards for front-office service provision and operational guidance to local court managers. The framework does not affect court hearings or the future of particular court buildings.

The minimum standards ensure a coherent but flexible system for providing front office services across the county court network. They guarantee appropriate access to the full range of services currently only delivered through the medium of a full-time public court counter. It will allow local HMCS managers some flexibility, working with the judiciary, to provide services through other and more innovative channels that are tailored to the needs and expectations of the local community, as well as improving overall efficiency and service standards.

The national minimum standards set a level below which the provision of front-office services must not fall and introduce safeguards to ensure that any alteration to current arrangements do not deny access to services or create an additional burden for the public. An appropriate level of local consultation, including Members of Parliament, will be required for all significant alterations.

Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. The framework document is also available on the Ministry of Justice website at www.justice.gov.uk

Data Loss

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I would like to update the House on the loss of sensitive data by PA Consulting and to inform the House that the Home Office has terminated the contract with PA Consulting that covered the handling of these data.

On 19 August, PA Consulting formally notified the Home Office of the loss of a data stick containing sensitive information relating to the JTrack system which PA manage under contract to the Home Office. I was informed the same day and immediately initiated an inquiry into this incident, undertaken by the Home Office Security Unit with advice and support from the Metropolitan Police. The incident inquiry has now been completed. The Information Commissioner and Cabinet Office have been kept fully informed. I have

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also today sent a full report to the Information Commissioner and have placed a copy in the House Library.

JTrack is the operational system used by the police and Crown Prosecution Service as part of the Government’s prolific and other priority offender (PPO) programme. The data on JTrack relate to prisoners and other offenders in England and Wales.

The inquiry found that data were transferred to PA from the Home Office in a secure manner. These data were not handled securely by a PA employee on their premises. Data were downloaded to a data stick. The data stick was used to transfer data between computers on the PA premises and was not encrypted or managed appropriately. The data stick went missing and, despite extensive searches, has not been found. This was a clear breach of the robust terms of the contract covering security and data handling.

Based on the findings of the inquiry, the Home Office have decided to terminate this contract. My officials are currently working with PA to take this work back in house without affecting the operation of JTrack or the PPO programme. Data transfers to PA for JTrack were suspended immediately following the incident, data handling has now been transferred to the Home Office and the system is fully operational. Other PA activity, such as system maintenance and user training, will be transferred by December.

We are reviewing our other contracts with PA, specifically from a data-handling and security perspective. Lessons learnt from this incident more generally will be applied to working with suppliers on contracts involving sensitive data.

Together with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Ministry of Justice, we have undertaken careful assessments of the potential risks to individuals of this incident. The risk to public safety is assessed as low. The risk to individuals whose data were lost is also assessed as low. Appropriate measures are in place for individuals seeking information about the data held on them.

The Home Office has been very active in implementing the findings of the Hannigan data handling review but, as with other incidents of data loss, the Government are reviewing the circumstances of this incident and will ensure that any lessons, including in relation to strengthening the delivery chain, are incorporated in the ongoing programme of work to provide support and guidance to departments on information assurance.

Given the seriousness of this incident, I believe it is important both to provide external assurance to the public on our response to the incident and also to enable others to benefit from the lessons learnt. Hence I have commissioned Dr Stephen Hickey to undertake an external scrutiny of our response. I will be placing a report of his findings in the House Library in due course.



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Department for Work and Pensions: Stakeholder Receptions

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

I have today published a list of receptions hosted by Department for Work and Pensions Ministers in the 2007-08 financial year.

The total cost of receptions held for the financial year 2007-08 was £368.00.

DateEventNumber invitedHost

19 February 2008

Introductory reception with key Working Age stakeholders

27

James Purnell

5 March 2008

Introductory reception with key Pensions and Disability stakeholders

27

James Purnell

EU: Budget Ecofin

Lord Davies of Oldham: My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Kitty Ussher) has made the following Written Statement.

On 17 July 2008, the UK permanent representative to the EU represented the UK at the Budget Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN).

The council conducted its first reading of the EC budget for 2009. The council adopted a draft budget that was supported by all member states.

During a conciliation meeting between the council and the European Parliament, six joint statements relating to the budget were agreed. These concerned: structural and cohesion funds and rural development 2007-13 programmes; recruitment in relation to the 2004 and 2007 enlargement; the EU solidarity fund; the European globalisation adjustment fund and emergency aid reserve; implementation of the budget in 2009; and an update of administration financial programming. In addition, the council agreed further statements on payment appropriations and evaluation of agencies.

The Government are supportive of these statements, which call for a greater degree of transparency, sound financial management and budget discipline in the areas they concern.

EU: Finance

Lord Davies of Oldham: My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Ms Kitty Ussher) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today laying before Parliament the annual European Community Finances White Paper Statement on the 2008 EC Budget and Measures to Combat Fraud and Financial Mismanagement (Cm 7371). This White

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Paper is the 28th in the series. It gives details of revenue and expenditure in the 2008 EC budget and covers recent developments in EC financial management and measures to counter fraud against the EC budget. It includes information on amendments to the arrangements for the financing of the annual budget of the European Communities in the own-resources decision area. It also includes updates on the EC budget review, the new own-resources decision and recent measures taken to improve the management and control of the EC budget.

Georgia

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. David Miliband) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I refer honourable and right honourable Members to the Written (Prime) Ministerial Statement made by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister today.

Gypsies and Travellers

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 Homes and Communities Agency as established in the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 will for the first time bring together in one agency housing and regeneration funding, public land and expertise to deliver decent, affordable housing and regenerate our communities by creating places where people choose to live. It will play a key role in turning our ambition to deliver 3 million new homes by 2020 into a reality.


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