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This investigation has shown that, when the Ministry of Defence introduced the self-contained oxygen generator (SCOG) into service on submarines, it assessed that the new unit delivered a substantial improvement to the safe generation of emergency oxygen over the previously used mark V candle. The cap and seal present in the new design was believed to be proof against contamination. The investigation has, however, made it clear that this belief and therefore the resultant understanding of any risk of explosion were flawed and that we were complacent about the improvement in safety the new SCOGs delivered.
The investigation has also identified a number of shortcomings in the way we handled and managed SCOGs. In particular, it has demonstrated that logistics management processes were in some places ambiguous and as a result were neither consistently applied nor comprehensively followed. The investigation found that these shortcomings existed across the logistics management system.
The investigation also looked at the issue of individual culpability. It concluded that, although individuals had made mistakes, the errors made did not amount to negligence and as a result disciplinary action is not justified. Although no individual was found to be personally culpable, it is clear that we were complacent, and, as I said in my Statement on 12 June, the Ministry of Defence must bear responsibility for this tragic incident. As part of that responsibility it is our duty to ensure that the necessary changes are made to prevent a reoccurrence.
The DE&S investigation has made 14 recommendations for improvements across the logistics management process, including for the handling, storage and tracking of SCOGs. These recommendations have been accepted in full and are being implemented, along with those made by the board of inquiry, which consulted a range of organisations, including NASA, while it looked into this incident.
The Ministry of Defence has already put in place a number of improved processes, guidance and equipment-related measures since the explosion on HMS Tireless. An interim replacement for the generation of emergency oxygen which is better protected than the SCOG has been introduced. This is being supplied to the submarine fleet as quickly as practicable. We have already fitted replacement oxygen generators to two of the fleet and expect to have rolled them out to the rest by the end of the year. These, along with any pre-existing SCOGs which remain in use over the next few months, will only be used in an emergency situation and are being handled appropriately. Work is also under way to develop and introduce a replacement oxygen-generating capability for routine and emergency use in the future.
The outcome of this further investigation, its recommendations and the improvements that are already being put in place do not change the fact that
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The next roulement of UK forces in Iraq, known as Operation TELIC 13, will take place from November. The TELIC 13 force package will see the lead formation, currently 7 Armoured Brigade, replaced by 20 Armoured Brigade.
20 Armoured Brigade will take over the command of UK forces from early December and will provide the majority of the units serving in Iraq. The forces deploying include personnel from the following units:
Members of the Reserve Forces will continue to deploy to Iraq as part of this force package, and we expect to issue around 175 call-out notices in order to fill some 150 posts during TELIC 13. Prior to their deployment and on completion of their mobilisation procedures, the reservists will undertake a period of training and integration with their respective units. For the majority, their deployment to theatre will commence in November, and most will serve on operations for six to seven months, although some may have shorter tours. The reservists will predominantly reinforce regular units and will perform a wide range of activities including force protection duties, intelligence and logistic tasks. As part of this commitment, we expect up to 10 members of the sponsored reserves to be in the operational theatre at any one time.
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.
The government response to the House of Lords European Union Committee report on increasing the supply of donor organs within the European Union (Cm 7466) has today been laid before Parliament. The response is in the Library, and copies are available to honourable Members from the Vote Office.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My honourable friend the Minister for Local Government (John Healey) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I can confirm to the House that the Government will shortly commence the early recruitment and appointment of a chair and chief executive of the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), before Royal Assent of the Planning Bill.
The IPC will act as the decision-maker for the majority of major infrastructure consents, acting within a national policy framework set by government. Early appointments will give infrastructure developers the confidence to work on applications for development consent under the new regime, with the knowledge that the IPC will be operational and able to provide advice by the time the first national policy statements are designated, anticipated to be towards the end of 2009.
Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £50,000 for this new service will be sought in a supplementary estimate for CLG. Pending that approval, expenditure estimated at £50,000 will be met by a repayable cash advance from the contingencies fund, under the established terms of that fund.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Parmjit Dhanda) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is publishing on 30 September the final revision of the regional spatial strategy (RSS) for the north-west of England. This is a slight amendment to the late August or early September date which my 17 July Statement suggested (Official Report, Commons, col. 42WS). The reports of a consolidated sustainability appraisal, a habitats regulations assessment and sustainability statement will also be published alongside the RSS on 30 September.
The regional spatial strategy forms part of the statutory development plan for every local authority in the north-west and sets the framework for the production of local development frameworks and local transport plans. It provides the spatial plan for the development of the region and the policy framework for employment, housing, transport and the environment.
The current strategy, initially published as regional planning guidance, became the regional spatial strategy in September 2004 with the enactment of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act. A draft revision of the regional spatial strategy was submitted to government in January 2006 by the North West Regional Assembly. It was subsequently tested in an examination in public between November 2006 and February 2007, and the report of the independent panel which conducted this examination was published in May 2007. The Secretary of State considered the recommendations of this independent panel and took into account the representations made on the draft revision and also changes in government policy since the draft revision was submitted, before publishing proposed changes for further public consultation between March and May 2008.
The consultation period ended on 23 May. In total 1,836 representations were received from 149 people and organisations. All of these representations have been considered, along with updates to the habitat
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Maria Eagle) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
There has been growing concern in recent years about whether current law is adequate to deal with misuse of the internet to promote suicide and suicide methods. The Government share the concerns that have been expressed about such misuse, in particular about suicide websites and the influence they may have over vulnerable people, especially young people.
In response to a Question from my honourable friend the Member for Bridgend (Madeleine Moon) on 11 March 2008, my right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Jack Straw) said that we were looking at this issue and would make an announcement as soon as possible (Official Report, Commons, 11/3/08; col. 141). The Government subsequently accepted in full the recommendations of the Byron review, including the recommendation that consideration should be given to whether the law in this area could usefully be clarified. This Statement sets out our conclusions.
The law of suicide comprises two offences. The first is the offence under Section 2 of the Suicide Act 1961 of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring a suicide or a suicide attempt, and the second is an offence under Section 1(1) of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981 of attempting to aid, abet, counsel or procure a suicide or a suicide attempt. Actions to assist or attempt to assist suicide can be carried out on- or off-line.
The complexity of the law in this area stems from the unusual nature of the offence in Section 2 of the Suicide Act, which provides accessory liability in respect of something which is not of itself criminal. We believe that the law as it stands is capable of catching the sort of material that is causing concern and, more generally, the encouragement of suicide through the medium of the internet. But in practice the application of the law, particularly in terms of what constitutes an attempt to commit the Section 2 offence, is complicated. It is difficult both to understand and to explain.
Accordingly, we have concluded that the scope of the current law should not be extended but the existing statutory language of Section 2 of the Suicide Act should be simplified and modernised in a way which will make it clearer for everyone to understand. Simplifying and modernising the language of the law should provide reassurance that the law is capable of reflecting the new ways of communicating and accessing information. This approach also builds on a recommendation from the Law Commission that there is a strong case for updating the language of Section 2.
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